Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ethiopia’s Muslims protest against being “treated like terrorists”

(July 25, 2012, France 24)--Long known for its religious tolerance, Ethiopia’s reputation now looks to be hanging in the balance as some members of its Muslim community have accused the government of treating them as if they were terrorists, resulting in a wave of protests in the capital Addis Ababa.

Mass demonstrations against religious discrimination erupted anew on Saturday, after scores of people gathered at Addis Ababa’s Anawar mosque. Clashes reportedly broke out after police attempted to break up the crowd, leading to the arrest of hundreds of protesters.

Over recent months, members of Ethiopia’s Muslim community have gathered at the capital’s Awoliya mosque every Friday to demand a new “majlis”, or Muslim Council. Many feel as though the current “majlis” is mostly comprised of government-appointed figures who do not represent them.

The demonstrations first turned violent on July 13, when thousands gathered at the Anawar mosque to call for a new “majilis”. Security forces were immediately dispatched to break up the demonstration, which authorities perceived as an act aimed at disrupting an upcoming African Union summit to be held in the capital. Police forced the mosque’s entrance open, before shooting canisters of teargas at the crowd and arresting 72 people.

While the majority of people in Ethiopia are Orthodox Christian, nearly 34 percent of the population is Muslim. Although the country has no official religion and its constitution guarantees religious freedom, there are some Muslims who feel as though their rights have been encroached upon and accuse the government of pushing the ideology of al-Ahbash – a Sunni movement founded in Lebanon during the 20th century that largely condemns Salafism and encourages religious pluralism. Read more from France 24 »

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