By Dilwenberu Nega
Tigrai Online Feb. 10, 2013
Opposition websites are notorious for posting articles which make absurd and meaningless claims about events in Ethiopia. Ethiomedia.com is considered one such villain, and Faysal Qassim’s “Jihadawi Harekat: Context, Objectives and Internal Contradictions” is a case in point. In his drool, Faysal makes a frantic attempt to demean and to discredit ETV’s decision to air the documentary “A Jihadist Movement” (Jehadawi Berekat) and makes claims to the alleged culprits speaking under duress, to no link being provided between Al-Shabab-trained armed terrorists sent to Ethiopia and the ongoing “Let our voices be heard” campaign and concludes by making nonsensical assumptions about the timing of the documentary. I, therefore, found Faysal’s counterblast at “A Jihadist Movement” informative only in that it offers a sample of textbook sophistry.
I, therefore, have decided to err on the side of caution and join the chorus of millions of Ethiopians in praising our security forces for nipping in the bud coordinated efforts at frog-marching FDRE into becoming an Islamist Republic. My commendation also goes to ETV’s decision to air the documentary which I found to be a chilly reminder of the immense dangers awaiting Ethiopia if the ruling EPRDF were to give in to the seemingly “peaceful campaign” by a minority, albeit vocal, Muslim fundamentalists. I am reminded here by the English saying “a burnt child dreads the fire.” We Ethiopians, both Christians and Muslims, are all too aware of the dangers posed by campaigns which first claim to be peaceful, only to see them rear their ugly heads once their impossible demands start being met.
You only have to fast rewind to 1974 in order to realise how the Derg succeeded in fooling Ethiopians with their “Yalemenim Dem Ethiopia Tikdem” popular slogan which, as every Christian and Muslim household would testify, had turned Ethiopia into a blood bath.
Ethiopian Christians and Muslims take immense pride and satisfaction in the irrefutable fact that the Motherland is home to the world’s two great religions. Our ancient and chequered history talks about a co-existence which had survived the ravages of Ahmed Gragn’s Jihad 1528-1560 without a sense of Islamophobia taking a foot hold in the hearts and minds of Christians, and it talks about Ethiopia offering safe haven to Muslims fleeing from Quraysh persecutions in Saudi Arabia.
My intention in citing historical examples here is to highlight the strength of our society’s flexible nature, and not to claim that Ethiopia’s past is redolent with equal treatments for Ethiopian Muslims. The past feudal system, with a “Defender of the faith of EOTC” as Emperor and with one-third of the land under the ownership of the Church, had manifested an unsavoury penchant for turning a blind eye and deaf ears to Muslim’s grievances. The most Emperor Haile Selassie was able to showcase his version of equal treatment to Muslims was to donate mosques to “Our beloved Muslim community” and to invite Muslim religious leaders to his Jubilee Palace for a reception at Muslim holidays. Following a massive Muslim demonstration for equal rights during the last leg of Endalkachew Mekonen’s “Give me Time” administration, however, the Derg gave in to calls for Islam’s religious festivals to be granted public holiday status.
To give credit where it is due, however, it is the EPRDF which had ring-fenced the rights of Muslims by enshrining it in the Constitution of FDRE. Never in the history of Ethiopia have Muslims, therefore, enjoyed equal rights and privileges like Christians, as they do in today’s secularist and democratic Ethiopia. The result is there for everyone to verify with even Ethiopian Regional States where the majority are Muslims, Friday is a day of. In addition, taking full advantage of their constitutionally guaranteed unbridled rights and freedom, Ethiopian Muslims spared no effort in the past 21 years to indulge in mosque building and in proselyting spree.
What the fuglemen behind the current “Let our voices be heard” campaign seem to intentionally or unintentionally forget is that in a secular state, not only is the state barred from interfering in religious affairs, but the converse is also true: churches and mosques must not allow politics to lurk behind neither the Cross nor behind the star and crescent. What it also means is that the government must not assume the role of a nanny state by trying to pick and choose religious orders and denominations for us. Imagine, for instance, what the reactions would have been had the government barred evangelists from all over the world from holding their religious crusades in Ethiopia. The government would be accused, and rightly so, of trampling over religious freedom. By the same token, the hands of the government is constitutionally tied, if it tries to bar any Muslim from establishing place of worship as long as they don’t advocate violence.
An alert Ethiopian doesn’t need to be told by the likes of Faysal Qassim that there is no link between the demands made by a minority of Muslim fundamentalists who fulminates their anti-government slogans every Friday at Addis Ababa’s Grand Anwar Mosque, and Al-Shabab’s avowed aim and goal of praying at Addis Ababa’s Grand Anwar Mosque. Is this a fluke of coincidence or is it Al-Shabab’s extended plan of weakening Ethiopia from within?
If two decades of life under the constant threat of terrorism by Muslim fundamentalists has taught Ethiopians of one lesson, it is that those who swear by their faith that their campaign is peaceful, and those hell-bent on violence share the same common denominator: to establish an Islamic republic. The only difference lies in the means: the “Let our voices be heard” campaigners demand the impossible, secure in the knowledge that they have the backing of armed terrorists, while Al-Shabab is intent on frog-marching us into total submission by bombing us while we are carrying out our daily business. Both are two sides of the same coin of terrorism.
Nothing, however, is as laughable as Faysal Qassim’s assertion that ETV’s timing of “A Jihadist Movement” is designed to divert public attention from “the recently failed attempts at reconciling the two Ethiopian Orthodox Synods and then jointly choosing the next Patriarch.......this might make the government fear that disgruntled Christians would join Muslims in their demand for non- interference by the state in religious affairs. When someone makes incredible assertions, Ethiopians tend to say “Yemaimesel neger le mistih atenger” which when transliterated means don’t make an unbelievable claim to your wife. It’s a good advice for those bent on hoodwinking us with their deafening “let our voices” chorus. In the first place talks between EOTC’s one and only Holy Synod and the self-exiled Patriarch and his phalanx of Archbishops has nothing to do with joint election of the next Patriarch of Ethiopia, but rather on whether or not Addis Ababa is willing and ready to restore an abdicated Patriarch who after his resignation eloped to the United States where he established a so-called Holy Synod in blatant violation of the Canon Law of EOTC, and to make matters worse, took up US citizenship. The prospect of seeing a foreigner on the throne of an Ethiopian Saint is unthinkable! Anyway, EOTC’s Holy Synod’s announcement that it will elect its 6th Patriarch on the 28th February 2013 has resolved the prospect of restoring EOTC’s 4th Patriarch once and for all. Besides, this is a non-issue to millions of EOTC’s faithful as well as to secularist EPRDF government. It is an issue only to a few loaded but politically desperate power mongers who are bent on using EOTC America as a conveyor belt to Arat Kilo.
While is true, on the other hand, is that EOTC’s Archbishops, most notably the architect of yesteryear’s “Ethiopia is a Christian Island” campaign, His Grace Abune Melke Tsadik, have, indeed, expressed their solidarity with “our Muslim brother.,” The truth, however, is that they were arm-locked into expressing what they vehemently abhor simply to please, and thereby, guarantee the financial support of their coterie of Ethiopian vuvuzela politicians in the United State who are even willing and ready to back Lucifer, let alone God’s men, so long as it guarantees the death of EPRDF. There is no wonder, then, to see clown cum so-called human rights activist, Tamange Beyene, who had in the past criticized EPRDF for allowing so many mosques to be built in Christian Ethiopia, now lead his South African congregation with an “Allah Hu Akber” slogan. (please refer to Youtube’s Tamagne Beyene in South Africa).
Last but not least, a word or two about the current hullabaloo surrounding hand-cuffed Abubeker Ahmed’s appearance on ETV’s documentary. Men charged with terrorism are handcuffed everywhere in the world. If the use of handcuff is deemed an instrument of torture then the US and UK would be the first to stand trial. In Guantanamo Bay, they are not only handcuffed but leg cuffed too. Hand cuffs are used to deter suspects from trying to harm themselves. It’s time we wake up to what is being cooked for us by those who demand from Ethiopia the unthinkable under a gunpoint. Wake up Ethiopia!