Muslim ProtestsRaise Slender Hopesof Change inEthiopia10 August 2013 , By PhilippSandner, Source: DeutscheWelleMuslims in Ethiopia stagedprotests to coincide withthe end of Ramadan. Theopposition joined them.Both criticize thegovernment for carryingout arbitrary arrests.Muslims in Ethiopia areangry over the detentionof 29 religious leaders andactivists and are callingfor their release. Theybelieve they have beenwrongly accused ofterrorism.Speaking to DW, ClaireBeston, an expert onEthiopia at AmnestyInternational said “wethink that these people arepersecuted because theygot themselves involved ina peaceful protestmovement.””We have seen that theMuslim protest movementwhich has been active formore than 18 months,continues to be subjectedto a massive oppression,”Beston added.Muslims are in theminority in mainlyChristian dominatedEthiopia, but they havebeen in the country formore than a thousandyears and now make up atleast a third of thepopulation. Theconstitution says religionand the state should bekept apart. Some Muslimsare outraged because theybelieve the government isviolating constitution bygiving financial support tothe moderate Islamicgroup “Al-Ahbash.” Thegovernment, they say, isforcing moderate religiouseducation on the country.They also accuse thegovernment of meddlingin the appointment of keyfigures in Ethiopia’ssupreme Islamic council.Three people have beenkilled in a protests thatsparked a confrontationbetween security forcesand protestorsUnder the guise of fightingterrorismConfrontation betweensecurity forces andprotesters is frequent.According to governmentfigures, last Saturday’s(03.08.2013) protest leftthree people dead.Eyewitnesses and bloggers,however, say that dozenswere killed that day. TheEthiopian police claimedthat Salafists coordinatedthe protests.”The government saysthere is a link between theMuslim protest movementand terrorism,” saidBeston. “It also says thesame about other politicalparties and protestmovements in thecountry,” she added.Political activists arerepeatedly detained underthe pretext of beingsuspected terrorists.The government says it isacting in accordance withthe law on combatingterrorism, which came intoforce in 2009. That lawsays any one who makesstatements or remarkswhich can be construed asencouraging terrorist actswill be punished by up to20 years in jail.Human rights activistshave been complaining foryears that this law is opento broad interpretationand can therefore beeasily misused to restrictpersonal liberty. In 2012the German Heinrich BoellFoundation closed downits offices in Addis Ababain protest at theworsening of human rightssituation in Ethiopia.Muslim protestmovements and oppostiongroups have beenprotesting agains arbitraryarrestsA glimmer of hopeOver the last few weeks,political opposition groupsand Muslims have beenprotesting againstarbitrary arrests. Theopposition “Blue Party”,which has a large youthfollowing, is calling for aliberal democracy. In earlyJune, the party organized alarge demonstration in thecapital Addis Ababa, whichwas attended bythousands of people.Unlike previous years, theautocratic state’sauthorities let the protestsgo ahead . According toHallelujah Lule, who worksat the Institute for SecurityStudies in Addis Ababa,the demonstrators hadshrewdly chosen the righttime for their rally. “Thefirst demonstration tookplace a few days after the50th anniversary of theAfrican Union.” Accordingto Lule, the governmenthad initially allowed theprotests in order to avoidupsetting the internationalcelebrations.But then thedemonstrations spread tothe northern Ethiopiancities of Gondar andDessie. There they werealso permitted to proceed.Nevertheless, it is tooearly to assume that thegovernment is now opento reform, says securityexpert Lule.The organizers of theprotests are always beingsubjected to pressure andthreats. Speaking to DW,Yilkal Getnet, the chairmanof the Blue Party, said hehas been receivinganonymous threateningphone calls. “They rangseveral numbers telling uswe should stop criticizingthe government.” ButGetnet says he is notprepared to beintimidated. “We arealways in danger, but weare ready to do everythingto defend our rights.”Protesting against thepolitical leadership inEthiopia was until recentlyunthinkable. In 2005 thegovernment of formerPrime Minister MelesZenawi launched a violentcrackdown on publicprotest sparking an exodusof dissidents. Now that theopposition can afford tomake itself heard, showsthere is a glimmer ofhope, commentedHallelujah Lule.

Muslim Protests
Raise Slender Hopes
of Change in
10 August 2013 , By Philipp
Sandner, Source: Deutsche
Muslims in Ethiopia staged
protests to coincide with
the end of Ramadan. The
opposition joined them.
Both criticize the
government for carrying
out arbitrary arrests.
Muslims in Ethiopia are
angry over the detention
of 29 religious leaders and
activists and are calling
for their release. They
believe they have been
wrongly accused of
Speaking to DW, Claire
Beston, an expert on
Ethiopia at Amnesty
International said “we
think that these people are
persecuted because they
got themselves involved in
a peaceful protest
“We have seen that the
Muslim protest movement
which has been active for
more than 18 months,
continues to be subjected
to a massive oppression,”
Beston added.
Muslims are in the
minority in mainly
Christian dominated
Ethiopia, but they have
been in the country for
more than a thousand
years and now make up at
least a third of the
population. The
constitution says religion
and the state should be
kept apart. Some Muslims
are outraged because they
believe the government is
violating constitution by
giving financial support to
the moderate Islamic
group “Al-Ahbash.” The
government, they say, is
forcing moderate religious
education on the country.
They also accuse the
government of meddling
in the appointment of key
figures in Ethiopia’s
supreme Islamic council.
Three people have been
killed in a protests that
sparked a confrontation
between security forces
and protestors
Under the guise of fighting
Confrontation between
security forces and
protesters is frequent.
According to government
figures, last Saturday’s
(03.08.2013) protest left
three people dead.
Eyewitnesses and bloggers,
however, say that dozens
were killed that day. The
Ethiopian police claimed
that Salafists coordinated
the protests.
“The government says
there is a link between the
Muslim protest movement
and terrorism,” said
Beston. “It also says the
same about other political
parties and protest
movements in the
country,” she added.
Political activists are
repeatedly detained under
the pretext of being
suspected terrorists.
The government says it is
acting in accordance with
the law on combating
terrorism, which came into
force in 2009. That law
says any one who makes
statements or remarks
which can be construed as
encouraging terrorist acts
will be punished by up to
20 years in jail.
Human rights activists
have been complaining for
years that this law is open
to broad interpretation
and can therefore be
easily misused to restrict
personal liberty. In 2012
the German Heinrich Boell
Foundation closed down
its offices in Addis Ababa
in protest at the
worsening of human rights
situation in Ethiopia.
Muslim protest
movements and oppostion
groups have been
protesting agains arbitrary
A glimmer of hope
Over the last few weeks,
political opposition groups
and Muslims have been
protesting against
arbitrary arrests. The
opposition “Blue Party”,
which has a large youth
following, is calling for a
liberal democracy. In early
June, the party organized a
large demonstration in the
capital Addis Ababa, which
was attended by
thousands of people.
Unlike previous years, the
autocratic state’s
authorities let the protests
go ahead . According to
Hallelujah Lule, who works
at the Institute for Security
Studies in Addis Ababa,
the demonstrators had
shrewdly chosen the right
time for their rally. “The
first demonstration took
place a few days after the
50th anniversary of the
African Union.” According
to Lule, the government
had initially allowed the
protests in order to avoid
upsetting the international
But then the
demonstrations spread to
the northern Ethiopian
cities of Gondar and
Dessie. There they were
also permitted to proceed.
Nevertheless, it is too
early to assume that the
government is now open
to reform, says security
expert Lule.
The organizers of the
protests are always being
subjected to pressure and
threats. Speaking to DW,
Yilkal Getnet, the chairman
of the Blue Party, said he
has been receiving
anonymous threatening
phone calls. “They rang
several numbers telling us
we should stop criticizing
the government.” But
Getnet says he is not
prepared to be
intimidated. “We are
always in danger, but we
are ready to do everything
to defend our rights.”
Protesting against the
political leadership in
Ethiopia was until recently
unthinkable. In 2005 the
government of former
Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi launched a violent
crackdown on public
protest sparking an exodus
of dissidents. Now that the
opposition can afford to
make itself heard, shows
there is a glimmer of
hope, commented
Hallelujah Lule.


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