Ethiopia Muslims rally on Fridays as tension rises By KIRUBEL TADESSE

November 2nd, 2012 Print Print Email Email

As midday prayers came to an end at the Grand Anwar mosque in Ethiopia’s capital, worshippers continued on to what has become a regular second act on Fridays — shouting anti-government slogans.

The demonstrations this Friday did not turn violent. But tensions are rising between the government in this mostly Christian country and Muslim worshippers. On Monday, federal prosecutors charged a group of 29 Muslims with terrorism and working to establish an Islamic republic.

Not all encounters between police and the protesters have been peaceful. In July, hundreds were arrested after a scuffle in the mosque that injured many and damaged property, including city buses.

Religious violence outside the capital has killed eight and wounded about a dozen this year in two incidents, including one last month when protesters tried to free jailed Muslim leaders in the Amhara region. Protests first erupted in December after the state, wary of Islamist extremists, wanted to change the leadership of a religious school in the capital.
The government also expelled two Arabs in May after the pair flew in from Middle East and disseminated pamphlets at the Anwar mosque. Two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians; the rest are Muslims.

Ethiopia’s former leader, Meles Zenawi, before he died in August expressed concern over rising fundamentalism he said was evident by the first discovery of an al-Qaida cell in the country. A federal court is scheduled to rule Monday in the case of 11 people charged with being members of al-Qaida. One Kenyan national has already pleaded guilty.

Protesters also accuse the government of unconstitutionally encouraging a moderate teaching of Islam called Al-Ahbash and dictating the election of community leaders to support it at an Addis Ababa religious school.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, speaking to parliament on Oct. 16, said the government fully respects freedom of religion and “would not interfere in the affairs of religion just as religion would not interfere in matters of politics.” He blamed “extremist elements” for the protests. He said some protesters “tried to activate a hidden political agenda under the pretext of religion.”

On Monday, federal prosecutors charged a group of 29 people, including the jailed activists, with terrorism.
The group, including a wife of a senior Cabinet minister, now faces charges including leading a covert movement to undermine the country’s secular constitution and establish an Islamic republic. Prosecutors say the group incited violence and called for jihad against the federal government.

The minister’s wife, Habiba Mohammed, is charged with coordinating finances for the group. Police say she was caught leaving the Saudi Arabian embassy in Addis Ababa with nearly $3,000. Other suspects are also charged with receiving pay from the embassy “to preach extremism.”

Before the charges were filed, the minister defended his wife, saying he had asked the Saudi ambassador for the money to help construct a mosque their family is building.

Rights groups are concerned about the trial and the use of an anti-terrorism law which they say has been used in past trials to silence dissent, not prosecute terrorists.

“Many of these trials have been politically motivated and marred by serious due process violations. The Ethiopian authorities should allow systematic independent trial monitoring, including by human rights organizations, throughout the trial,” said Laetitia Bader of Human Rights Watch.

One protester on Friday said his group is changing the color used in past protests, yellow, to white to underscore that the jailed leaders are peaceful activists, not terrorists.

  1. Hun
    | #1

    Protest against Wyenes is not protest against Christians. Ethiopians Islams and Christains are brothers and weyenes are only enemy they have.

  2. eti
    | #2

    “Two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians; the rest are Muslims”.

    Ethiopia used to have christian government ,but is not chritian country.
    Please look at the following, and tell me where christians are majority other than Tigre and amhara kilil.

    http://i.imgur.com/G1Ffd.jpg

  3. Ethiopian from Minnesota, U.S.A
    | #3

    Ethiopia has kept its self out of religious influence of Christianity or Islam by keeping the motto of Religion to be personal and Country to be communal for generations. But now the influence of money has taken over and created unbelievable schism among the Ethiopians based on the so called “RELIGION”. What is Christianity or Islam? We, all believers, believe in one GOD. Is there a different GOD for Christians separate from the one GOD who is also the GOD of Muslims? The creator (GOD) is one and the same for all Christians and Muslims. But some religious politicians have created this scary illusion of religious outlook to benefit their egoistical ambition of divide and rule policy to control others. Muslims and Christians should be aware of this plot which has been propagated for centuries. Do not listen to Priests or Hadjis. They are troublemakers. What God wants is that we all respect the others as we want to be respected, love others as we want to be loved, care for others as we like to be cared, and recognize the weaknesses of others as ours. It does not matter what religious affiliation we have, it is wrong to create and propagate chaotic violations in the country. If we believe in the process of justice, we have to oppose and condemn religious uprisings and its constraining influences.It is the role of Government to diffuse unnecessary confrontations among the different ethnic or religious groups. Muslims and Christians should respect and uphold the values of Ethiopia as a secular state. Ethiopians never supported or support any ethnic or religious radicalism. Nobody has the right to impose his/her will of subordination or subjugation on another Ethiopian. Just a REMINDER. GO OUT ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER, 6, 2012 to vote for Obama, if you are an American citizen. VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE.

  4. eti
    | #4

    @Ethiopian from Minnesota, U.S.A

    I SUPPORT WE ARE ALL BROTHERS,mulims christian ,others, we all are ethiopians first :religion is personnal affairs

  5. ለምለም
    | #5

    “በቃሊቲ ማሰሪያ ቤት እነርሱ “ማረሚያ ቤት” ይሉታል። በርካታ ወገኖቻችን እንደሚገኙ ይታወቃል። በቅርቡ ደግሞ የሙስሊም ኢትዮጵያውያን መፍትሄ አፈላላጊዎች ወደ ቃሊቲ ተዛውረዋል። ይህ ፎቶ ህብረተሰቡ ከታሳሪዎቹ ጎን መሆኑን ያሳያል። “አያሳይም” የሚል ካለ በደንብ ደግሞ ይመልከተው! ፎቶውን ብቻ ሳይሆን የታሰሩበትንም ምክንያት በደንብ ብንመለከት ደግሞ ሁላችንም ከነዚህ ወገኖች ጎን መቆማችን አይቀሬ ነው!”November 5th, 2012” (http://www.ethiopianreview.net/index/?p=47899)
    ማን ጸሎት ያሳርግ
    ወይ ነውር አይገዛው
    አምልኮት ዓልነካው፤
    የእትዮጵያን ሰው ሁሉ
    በቃሊቲ አጎረው።
    ይድነቃችሁ ብሎ
    በየሱስ ስም ማለ፤
    የመለስን ወንጌል
    እንደ ክታብ እርጎ
    በአንገቱ ሰቀለ።
    ለሁሉም ለመሆን
    አዲሱ ምንስቴር በቃሊቲ ሳይቀር፤
    አርብ ሰኞ ሳይል
    አለ ዓላህ አክብር።
    ምነው የኔ ወዳጅ
    ጓዴ የጴንጤ አማኝ
    አያቴ ኦርቶዶክስ
    የሚያምኑ በየሱስ
    የዓባቴ ወገኖች
    አሉ ብዙ እስላሞች
    በክርስትና መልክ እስኪ ልጠይቅህ
    በቃሊቲ ቦታ ቁርስ ምሳ ሲቀርብ
    ማን ጸሎት ያሳርግ
    ብለህ ታውጃለህ
    ዳዊትን ይደገም
    ወይስ ቁርሃን ያቅራ
    በዱር በገደሉ ለመብቱ ሲያቅራራ።
    ዐረ ባላህ በሉ ወይንም በየሱስ
    እስከመቸ ድረስ
    እንዲህ እንታመስ
    አዳምጠኝ ይልቅስ ወሪውን ልንገርህ
    ብቻውን አልቅሷል ዖሮሞው አባትህ
    ለአማራዋ እናትህ
    ተው እንጅ ዓትቀልድ ምነው ምኑ ነካህ
    ከለቅሶው ያልደረስህ
    አሁን ገና ገባኝ አላህን ፈርቶ ነው
    ሰላም በማወጅህ
    ዐረ ባላህ በሉ ወይንም በየሱስ
    እስከመቸ ድረስ
    እንዲህ እንታመስ
    © ለምለም ጸጋው በስልምና ሃይማኖትም ሆነ መብታቸውን ለማስጠበቅ በመናገራቸው በእስር ቤት ለሚማቅቁ ሁሉ (http://www.ethiomedia.com/assert/4785.html)
    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=t6Agm1q_YpM&NR=1)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=tOFOCAtXzx8

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