By Jonas Tameru
Ethiopia’s Muslim populace has over the past couple of months, been on the uprising with a long list of demands considered unacceptable by the EPRDF. A mess created by the government itself is now proving hard to clean up. In turn it has evoked a wave protests by the Muslim masses in the country.
The initial protests began before the death of the former Prime Minister MELES, who as usual responded to the question in a sarcastic manner, unfolding a wave of protests all over the country and even beyond.
It is an undeniable fact that internet tools like Facebook, twitter, YouTube and the like are playing a huge role in mobilizing the protests in Ethiopia, in the same way that they have been used in the various Arab countries that hosted an uprising. It is sad though that the majority of the population in Ethiopia is computer illiterate, and this includes the majority of the Muslim community. So the rapid spread of messages to Muslims all over the country about scheduled mass protests has been hindered by the above factor of computer illiteracy. Had it not been for that perhaps we would have seen a rapid uprising by the Ethiopian Muslim community all at once, giving the government a lot to panic about. But instead the Muslims depended on flyers that are handed out at mosques, as a mode of information exchange. This method couldn’t last long because it was simply infiltrated by the government agents.
What do they want?
It is still unclear and difficult to understand what the Muslim community demands are exactly. But we can all agree on one thing, it is not the so called terrorizing of Ethiopians like the government is claiming, nor does it have anything to do with a jihad war against Christians in Ethiopia. In fact the Muslims themselves have repeatedly indicated that their problem is with the government, and that they have no grievances with the Christian community in Ethiopia.
This leads me to another hypothesis. Are the Muslims protesting to give rise to a Muslim government? This question is perhaps what lingers behind everyone’s mind and mine too. While it is not a secret that every Muslim in Ethiopia would prefer a Muslim government that respects and acknowledges Muslim customs at a more than neutral state, but are they willing to go out to the streets and cry out loud for the soul reason of this purpose? I don’t think so, no matter how much they would envy other Muslim states, Ethiopian Muslims would not take to the streets with the aim of overthrowing the government for the sake of establishing a Muslim government.
In my opinion, they have other bigger questions that this government can’t answer. Questions like freedom of speech, the question of freedom to practice their religion in the way they like. But the headline to all this questions is the governments Interference in the religious hierarchy. Like other areas the government insists on placing its own party loyalists as religious leader incumbents. This is the question that is central to the Muslim opposition.
Although EPRDF advocates the separation of government and religion on the media, it fails to show this in action when it comes to reality. The truth of the matter is that the government interferes and although there are elections to choose religious leaders, it is the government that hand picks who will assume the leadership position for that religion.
This by any measure of governance is an immoral and undemocratic action to mix up politics and religion. This is the real reason why the Muslims of Ethiopia took to the streets in protest. They are correct by all means. They did not advocate jihad against Christians, nor did they orchestrate a codetta to topple down the government. Neither are they terrorists being funded by foreign lands to create terror and unrest to the country. They are our own brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, and neighbors who got tired of succumbing to the governments iron fist.
The EPRDF instead of listening to their question and pulling its hands out of religious affairs that should not concern it, decided in turn to label the protesters as extremists, jihadists, and terrorists. Police started arresting them and jailing them as suspects of terrorism. This was not what a government that claims to be neutral of religious affairs should have done. What the EPRDF is doing is simply labeling the Muslim protestors that it has under its custody, as terrorists and portraying them to the rest of the community as destructors of society. Its recent documentary named “JIHADIST HARACAT” is just another example of the government’s fiction film that is used to brainwash the community into thinking that these Muslims are enemies of the state. Currently the government’s policy of divide and conquer is extending its reach from the racial grouping to religion because it does not want a religion with a strong support to stand out and challenge the puppet leaders that the government has chosen for them.
It has been shown on the documentary when the Muslim leaders, who are in custody, were admitting to the crimes they were accused of. This is a major breach of the law by ETV. Let me explain. First of all, these accused Muslims who are in custody, have not yet been convicted by a court of law as guilty. And the famous “innocent until proven guilty” supposedly works In the Ethiopian law. So the documentary by itself contradicts this law by portraying these individuals as convicted criminals.
Secondly, this documentary depicts them admitting to their crimes before a verdict has been passed and then decided to show it to the rest of the world although it was banned by the court from doing so. This could have a major impact on their verdict so it can be considered as tampering with the outcome of a verdict, because the documentary will bias the judge passing the final verdict.
In Ethiopia, a country where the press law is extremely strict, the actions of ETV should have had it shut down immediately and its leaders under custody for the offences that I mentioned earlier. But that is not the case in Ethiopia; instead the EPRDF government has ignored the actions of ETV as usual and decided to pass the offences that the company committed as necessary.
While innocent journalists like Eskinder Nega suffer in the prison cells of kality jail, the notorious leaders of ETV roam in the streets of Addis freely.
Victory for the people of Ethiopia!!