Ethiopian government: Stop interfering in religious matters

Eng. Abdelwuhab Bushra, Mekelle

The Ethiopian constitution states that “The state shall not interfere in religious matters and religion shall not interfere in state affairs” (Article 11 sub-article 3). But the state never stops interfering in religious matters. With respect to the constitution, the regime always abuses it. For example, the state trains a group of people called Ahbash in Beirut, Lebanon, as a new Islamic religion and introduced them by force to the Ethiopian Muslims. The Ahbash group was trained by Israel and UK governments as well as funded by both.

The Ethiopian Muslims immediately rejected the idea of the Ahbash group. Then the state tried to use several ways to harass Muslims and many peoples were arrested. Many Muslims were arrested by the security forces from mosques. Emams of Tigray Muslim mosque leaders were forced to be trained by Ahbash new religion group at Mekele University, and other educational centers throughout the country. Muslims were warned that they would be fired from their jobs if they rejected the conversion. The Tigray mosque leaders and Emams were given field allowances by the government that also covered their transportation cost. Islam has been in Ethiopia for over 14 hundred years, therefore, we do not need a new Islamic religion. There is no new Islamic religion at all. Islam is as old as 14 hundred years, and the Ethiopian government tries to renew it by force, which is impossible to be accepted by the Ethiopian Muslims. Muslims in Ethiopia are suffering from governmental interference in their own religious affairs in all aspects. But the Muslims never stop asking to be left alone. The regime was using the divid and rule system by creating Ahbash, and it thinks that the Muslims will fight each other. But instead Ethiopian Muslims emerged united more than anytime ever, which crippled the strategy of the ruling party.

Recently, there was an election for the Majlis committee. The Muslim communities presented their own candidates, but the security agency of the Ethiopian government refused to accept the candidates because it wants candidates from the Ahbash group, eventhough the candidates picked up by the government are unknown to the Muslim society. The government interference has remained extremely bad and disturbing. As a people, the government forces us to do as told, if we like it or not. This is the case and truthful situation in Ethiopia. There is no way out of this condition unless the EPRDF is changed. And change is impossible because the electoral board is not autonomous and not neutral as its employees are members of TPLF or EPRDF. In other words, there will never be a fair and free election in the country.

Over the past several months, many mosques were invaded and abused by security forces and many citizens were arrested for several months without court orders and charges. Their crime was that they were at the mosques. Those arrested never knew what they were charges were. According to Article 20 sub-article 2, “Accused persons have the right to be informed with sufficient particulars of the charge brought against them and to be given the charge in writing”. If this is the case, why were the Ethiopian Muslims without letting them appear in a legal court? There is no body who would answer this equation, because there is no proper human rights organization that defends the civil rights of citizens.

Many journalists were arrested and their journals or newspapers were closed when they published articles that discover the interference of Ethiopian government in religious affairs.

Nowadays, state-owned Ethiopian Radio and TV claim that there is an Islamic terrorist group in Ethiopia that they say is being led by an Egyptian-born US citizen named Dr. Shaker. This is a lie because it is impossible for America to host a terrorist. But the Ethiopian government is repeating the same story without any sense of shame. And no one is stating how the so-called terrorist from America is guiding Ethiopian Muslims. The EPRDF politicians didn’t answer the question. But the truth is Dr shaker only condemned government interference in the religious affairs of Ethiopian Muslims. This advice is presented from a wise person who knows the consequence of the case.

The Constitution of the federal republic of Ethiopia article 12 sub-article 2 states that “Any public official or an elected representative is accountable for any failure in official duties”. According to the two articles and the Ethiopian officials’ behavior, it is clear that how the government officials are abusing their duties and responsibilities in failing to treat citizens equally and reasonably.

The interfering of the government in religion limited to the Muslims. Orthodox Christians are not spared either as they continue to suffer from the cosequences of government intereference in their religion. Recently, the government as usual presented its own candidates for Orthodox Christians.

When TPLF or EPRDF officials were rebels prior to seizing power in 1991, we knew they were adherents of Communist, Marxist-Leninist ideology. At one time, they were even proponents of Albanian communism. Today, they say their ideology is based on “Revolutionary Democracy,” which was an idea of Lenin. Eventhough communism ideology has been a complete failure, they still stick to it.