By Fetsum Belay
Tigrai Onlne - July 20, 2014
It’s becoming fashionable these days to see some of the free press newspapers and magazines in our country putting out religion related reports on their front pages. These press publications did not stop from disseminating terrorists’ message as if they’re their mouthpiece. As their usual they are at it again; propagating their political agenda under the guise of religion – though they were ignored by the general public. Although the writer of this article believes the free press should exercise its constitutional right, it doesn’t believe they should violate rule and laws using the opportunity the constitution afforded them.
I don’t think a newspaper or a magazine should be taken lightly when it delves into political issues just to boost its sale, when in fact it’s registered under an art and cultural press. Especially when it unlawfully called for color revolution to be instigated, supporting terrorism in the process. It’s not that hard to understand here that these press publication wanted to disseminate sham rumors unlawfully for two reasons. One is to maraud their close-minded political outlook, being the extremist opposition politician that they are, while the second reason has to do with rent-seeking attitude in which they would rack up unlawful profits through bogus propaganda.
Although its not the aim of this article to implicate between lawful and unlawful journalistic procedures, however it aims at pointing out reports; put out by some publications which were supporting extremism, that are wrong and not grounded to the realities of the country. Thus, in this article, I’ll try to inform my dear readers that religion fundamentalist and suspected terrorists are using religion as cover for their own political ends. But first let us move into the past dangers and impending threat it poses on our country and the international community, as it will enables to see how much heinous and brutal the problem really is.
As it’s known, our people do not have any other ill other than poverty. And in order to sweep away this unfortunate and shameful ill, the people together in collaboration with our developmental and democratic government are playing their own role. It’s ascending in a developmental avenue to realize our great leader’s vision and to relegate poverty to past tense, thereby carry out its national responsibility and goal. However, at this time where our developmental government and people are carrying out this grand effort, it’s a fact that there are terrorists and extremists who are losing their sleep to hamper our national vision if they can. And one of those plots that can stutter us from the peace, development and democracy path we started is obviously the terror plots that’s being hatched by these extremists is one.
Thus, unless we are able to stop extremist lackeys that conspire and plot under the name of religion, it will be naiveté to think we will win our struggle against poverty. As we all can understand, terrorism is a devilish act that takes away human lives and destroy country’s wealth. The fact that terror acts takes away many human lives regardless of place, age, religion and ethnicity is getting obvious from the realities of our own and other countries’ experience. Generally, it can be said that the act can cause political, economical and social chaos wherever it may be.
Terrorism has been a real challenge and has been causing problems to even the big economy countries of the west, let alone to a developing country like ours. What led for many countries to give attention to the threat, and served them as wakeup call was the heinous September 11 terrorist acts.
This attack has taken the lives of more than 3000 innocent lives of more than 70 countries in no more than two hours. In addition to injuring many people, it has destroyed the two twin towers. It has also turned one side of the pentagon into rubbles by crushing plane into it. And I think this reality is enough to show the brutality of terror acts. It was after this that American warned and suggested that the war on terror campaign should include the horn of Africa in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq. However, our country being the victim of terrorism was ahead of everyone in pointing out the dangers of terrorism than everybody else. All in all, it was after 2002 that this act gained momentum in the horn of Africa. Out of the ‘Godson’ of Al-Qaida: the Ato Isaias government as a nation and its East Africa faction Al-Shabaab as a militant group should be mentioned.
Of course the countries that are part of the region known as the horn Africa are becoming the ‘go to guys’ for the terrorists. Out of these countries, Somalia had the vision of becoming the strategic seat and safe haven of terrorist – though it should be noted that it was all in the past and is currently quickly changing for the better. Eritrea as a country is becoming a lynchpin in organizing, arming and training terrorist groups and distributing them to other countries. Many reports that have surfaced have claimed the Eritrean government gives every support available to terrorist group like Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and ‘Ginbot 7’. The Ato Isaias government sponsored, Al-Shabaab, from 2000-2010 alone have carried four suicide attacks. Al-Shabaab in a year alone has carried out three attacks on civilian Somalis through cluster bombs and grenades.
In addition to this, it took the lives of 76 civilians that were watching the 19th world cup in a hotel in Kampala where many Ethiopians live by. One of the victims was Ethiopian. Since we saw the brutality of terrorism, let us move now to the government and people struggle to fight terrorism. In order to give the anti-terrorism a legal framework, the FDRE house of peoples’ representatives has passed provision no. 652/201. And this provision has setup a framework where groups that commit terror acts will be branded as terrorists. And according with this provision, the house has decided that ‘OLF’, ‘Ginbot 7’, ‘Al-Shabaab’ and ‘Al-Qaeda’ should be branded terrorists. Al-Shabaab on its own has made anti-Muslim activities on its own by shielding behind a wrong Islamic sect. With this, the group has carried out terror attacks on those people, families and countries that don’t share a common religion with it. Although this terror group has tried to carry out repeated terror plots on our country, it was stopped every time with the close supervision of the government and people.
But this doesn’t mean terrorism is no more a threat. This is because there are sporadic terror acts that use religion as cover, in our country. As it’s known, it’s obvious that religion masked terror acts have nothing to do with religion in any criteria. This is why it’s said that terrorism is a politically driven act and has nothing to do with religion. And this and only this is what happening in our country. The problem in our country is terrorism and extremism, and not religion.
It’s clear that the objective of the extremists that come in and out in our country is a political one and has nothing to do with religion. This is because Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and respect, and in no way can be associated or serve as pretext for terrorism. So, it should be understood that whether it’s Al-Shabaab or other terrorist lackey, they have no ground for any religion demand for it to carry out terror acts. Religious fundamentalism (EXTREMISM), which can evolve into terrorism, can heavily cause disarray in a country’s political, economic and social issues.
The spontaneous riots that broke out in Tunisia a few years ago, and Egypt and the subsequent mess can be a testament to this. The objective behind the Tunisian and Egyptian popular struggle is quite clear. That is, it aimed at overthrowing the undemocratic regimes that were unable to improve the lives of the people. The popular riot that took place in both Tunisia and Egypt planned at bringing political, social and economic benefits for the public. Although, the riots were successful in overthrowing their respective dictatorial leaders, it doesn’t seem that they brought lasting solution to the countries.
All in all, I think we should look into asking, ‘Is there a demand that can be raised in our country with regards to religion freedom and equality?’ our country’s constitution stipulates that Ethiopian nation, nationalities and people are equal. It guarantees there is no reason one is bigger or lesser to the other. The FDRE constitution has clearly stipulated that everyone is equal and the religion they follow has equal freedom. According to FDRE constitution article 11, religion and the state are separate.
Thus, the state (government) does not interfere with the affairs of religion and vice versa. Also, it guarantees that there can be no religious government in the country ever. While the truth is, it can be recalled that last year some extremists and bankrupt politicians have lobbied their cause using religion as cover. However, the baseless issue these entities raised was thwarted by the Muslim community itself. As the constitution has enshrined and implemented religion equality, there can be no grounds in our country for demands of religion equality to be raise – even as a cover. However, as the extremists aim is not related to rights, they have worked hard to realize their own political agenda.
The terrorists did not only stop with this. They were heard saying, “when the day of nation, nationalities and people celebrated, why is religion not included as well; why religion is not as recognized as identity is in the federal system?” Though these entities are not well aware of the FDRE constitution, the issue they have raised is well accounted for in the constitution.
One thing should be recognized here. That is, more than anything, in order to protect a certain country’s sovereignty; its national interest must be protected firstly. Standing from hi point of view, it should be understood that protecting our country’s national interest is not a duty only left to the government. Every citizen should play its own role in this. No one can meddle in our country’s national interest, and should not be allowed to. So, we have the obligation and right to punish those who are found working and hatching terror plots against our country. And we should do this because we will significantly be harmed by it if we don’t do it.
It can’t be debated that any government wants a bright future for its citizen. And in order to realize this, the country should no tilt towards any specific religion. In order to arrange a developed country which provides bright future and opportunity to its citizens, the public should be mobilized from border to border, and be included in the development at every level. Dividing the public through religion as what some the extremists are trying to do is not the way to go. Of course be it as a ruling party or as a government, the ruling party has always worked within the public, respecting the people, since its inception. As the party fully understands that the people are behind former successes and the current rapid and sustainable development, they can’t measure their action to religion; and they haven’t done that. This is why the party run for office with the logo, “the future is bright with us”. Nevertheless, the extremists still insist upon blaming it all on the government – though it’s for a little while.
These few forces have tried to divide their own religion by claiming ‘the olden Islam is moderate and does not stand for its rights’, and by condemning other religions. In order to make the days hard on other religion followers, they have operated by making violence as their means. So, it can be said that expect for the extremists and rioters, the future is bright for the peace-loving Muslim community. This is because the political landscape that’s being erected in our country is not suitable or comfortable for violence-driven forces.
However, some magazines have even gone as far as writing, “this is how a color revolution strategy should be like”. This call for color revolution, which musters terrorism with it, is not only unlawful but it’s also a violation of the rule of law. As its known, the color revolution is mainly runned from abroad, while it’s supported by power crazed local oppositions and Media and personalities who are willing to give up their country’s interest. According to expert “revolutionaries”, the oppositions of the country targeted to host the “revolution” are advised to create a strong alliance. In light with this, the human and democratic rights handling of that country, its political landscape (whether it’s narrow or wide) and the conditions of the oppositions will be brought in a twisted and distorted way that would facilitate the way for the instigation of a color revolution.
It can’t be debated that foreign powers are behind the recent “the strategy of the color revolution should be like this” chatters seen in the press. This is because we have seen formerly a network, that spans here and abroad, set up to support court sentenced terrorists. Here we can raise two of those who supports extremism that can lead to terrorism - the Ato Temesgen desalegn led ‘FACT’ magazine and extremist oppositions like the lights of ‘Semyawi Party’. Of course, Ato Temesgen’s ‘FACT’ magazine has been working opposing with the constitution. As we all know, the FDRE constitution and the subsequent laws have a firm stance on terrorism and terrorists. And the government is working committedly to wipe out this heinous and brutal act from the country and region by working cooperatively with country’s that condemns terrorism, at any time.
Nevertheless, the Ato Temesgen ‘FACT’ magazine have been encouraging forces that are suspected for terror activities, by disregarding the country’s policy. He even won’t back from writing in support of Al-Shabaab linked entities. Even knowing the fact that terrorists are not reported in any other country like they are here, it still did not stop him from ruling them as “free”, taking the role of a judicial court, and encouraging suspected terrorists.
I don’t think one should be a nuclear scientist to figure out that behind this opposing of own government’s policy and this effort of eroding the country’s peace through hoax rumors lies some forces. I think on order to understand the truth, the magazine’s journalist procedure and their working ideological proclivity should be looked at. As any reader of this article understands, the ethical procedure of journalism in any country asks for the interviewee neutrality.
Other than this, interviewing only one person has to do with propagating the journalist’s own political wishes and interests. However, ‘FACT’ magazine instead of presenting neutral interviewee, they are allowing their opposition colleagues to unload their anti-Ethiopian views. By presenting unbalanced articles and reports to the reader, they violate their professional ethics. Maybe they’ll claim they will present the government’s position by citing reports for show. But the truth is different to this, as they won’t keep their word and do it anyway. All in all, whatever they may say, there is no terror threat on the horizon for our country. However, it would be behoove of them to know that propagating for terrorists doesn’t implicate any kind of opposition.
The other proponents of the terrorist are the so-called “peacefully operating” extremist opposition like the lights of ‘Semyawi Party’. Even leaving out the others, we’ll still find the party arguing for suspected terrorists, their case still in court unresolved, at last Sunday’s rally of the party – saying ‘they are not terrorists’. Of course it is not surprising to see the party propagating for the extremists aiming for personal political expedience – if the party don’t do this, it won’t get its funds from its overseers. However, the party should realize that the party is infringing the constitution it falsely claims to respect. This is because the constitution is all about peace and tolerance and not violence and riot.
As it’s known, our country’s economic, political and social realities cannot serve as pretext for religious conflict. And our country’s rent-seekers should know that trying to confuse the people by longing for the previous regimes and for overthrow the constitution is the same thing as disturbing the public’s peace. Therefore, considering that the new Ethiopia has confirmed itself as a country that not only recognizes but also hosts religion difference and equality; a country of rapid and sustainable development with a rooting democratic culture, those forces who supports terrorism and color revolution should do well in knowing that the country doesn’t have place in it for their kinds.