Counter Extremism with Freedom in Ethiopia

A mosque in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Image: G.A. Hussein

From Somalian anarchy to Eritrean and Sudanese tyranny and civil strife, the Horn of Africa has long been a turbulent region. A notable exception has been the nation of Ethiopia.

That might be changing.

From December 15 through December 19 of last year, I was in Addis Ababa heading a delegation from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). We met with a wide range of people, from the American ambassador to Ethiopian government officials, religious leaders and nongovernmental human rights and interfaith representatives.

Prior to our trip, we had seen reports about violations against Muslims, especially since July 2011. This was when the Addis Ababa government first sought to change how Islam was practiced in Ethiopia and began to punish those resisting its new policy. Our findings confirmed the assaults on religious liberty and their negative impact—both as a human rights issue and a potential security matter.

Until July 2011, Ethiopia’s government largely respected the religious freedom of its people, including Muslims, who are mostly Sufis and comprise one-third of the population. Article 27 of Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees religious freedom and “the independence of the state from religion.”

Four factors have fueled a shift away from honoring this right. First, in neighboring Somalia and Sudan, violent religious extremists pose a security threat. Second, within its own borders, Wahhabism—imported from Saudi Arabia—also poses a danger. Third, Ethiopia’s policies have undermined civil society. Its government has imposed draconian limits on foreign funding for human rights, democracy promotion and conflict mitigation, leaving many NGOs with stark choices. They can work with the government—foregoing their independent status and drastically curtailing their activities—or they can close up shop. Consequently, there are no independent groups in Ethiopia that can monitor religious freedom or undertake interfaith cooperation or intra-faith conflict resolution activities. Finally, Ethiopia’s government is perpetrating religious repression, purportedly in response to Wahhabist threats.

Starting in July 2011, Ethiopia’s government decided that the way to fight the Wahhabism of some Muslims was by limiting the freedom of all Muslims. It imported imams from Lebanon representing the al-Ahbash movement within Islam and compelled Ethiopia’s imams and Islamic educators to embrace and mirror their teachings. The government began dismissing dissenters by firing imams and closing their schools. This effort was conducted not only through Ethiopia’s government but also through the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC).

When it was launched, EIASC’s members had been appointed by the government rather than elected by the community, thus depriving Muslims of a recognized, independent voice. By December, the attempts to impose al-Ahbash triggered protests outside of mosques.

In the spring of 2012, an Arbitration Committee of 17 Islamic scholars was created by the protesters to negotiate with the government about respecting religious freedom guarantees such as ending the imposition of al-Ahbash, reopening schools and restoring dismissed imams and administrators. The Committee also asked for new EIASC elections.

By the end of July, negotiations had failed, protests increased and the government began conducting house-to-house searches. The government arrested 1,000 protestors, along with all 17 Committee members, eight of whom it later released.

In October, the government charged 29 protestors, including the nine Committee members it was still holding, with terrorism and attempting to establish an Islamic state. Thus far, it has offered no evidence that these people are terrorists.

We met with attorneys for 28 of the 29 who reported that their clients were tortured and that they’ve had trouble meeting with those imprisoned. The government prevented us from meeting with any of the prisoners directly.

Meanwhile, officials denied any role in the al-Ahbash trainings, rejected our concerns about foisting a particular belief onto a religious community, insisted that they do not meddle in religious affairs unless “red lines” are crossed—a which term they neglected to define—and blamed the EIASC alone for the al-Ahbash trainings, even though EIASC members were initially government appointees and remain entirely sympathetic to the government.

In our meeting with newly elected EIASC members, they reiterated the government’s talking points supporting separation of religion and state while labeling the demonstrators “terrorists,” even though some of its members had joined in protesting. Members kept deferring to the Council’s vice president, whom we learned is close to Ethiopia’s ruling party. We also learned that the Council’s president previously served in senior governmental postings. Finally, the EIASC members ominously said there would be no divisions within Ethiopia’s Muslim community and that dissenters would be “brought into the fold.”

What does this all mean?

While Ethiopia’s government fears violent religious extremism from Somalia and Sudan and the influence of Wahhabism, the way to counter religious extremism is not with religious repression but through religious freedom. It is not by manipulating outcomes in the marketplace of ideas, but supporting a marketplace that encompasses all ideas, including religious ideas. It is by trusting in the common sense of its people, believing that most will reject not just government repression but religious extremism and the totalitarian control it seeks over them and their families.

Indeed, across the world, study after study affirms that where there is religious freedom, there is stability, harmony and prosperity, and where religious liberty is lacking, so are these blessings.

Thus, the only way the radicals can win is if governments, in the name of fighting these extremists, repeatedly abuse their people’s freedom.

In Ethiopia, as elsewhere, freedom, not just for the sake of human rights but for peace and security as well, is the antidote to extremism.

M. Zuhdi Jasser serves as a Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

 

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

44 comments to Counter Extremism with Freedom in Ethiopia by M. Zuhdi Jasser

  • Melaku

    We Ethiopian peoples know what is the main objective of U.S commision as well as the U.S authors. Who make the U.S the moral police of world……………..

  • […] published on Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, on March 11, 2013, titled “Counter Extremism with Freedom in Ethiopia“, authored by M. Zuhdi Jasser, who serves as a Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on […]

  • mubarek seid

    ya it is true,we ethiopian muslims are suffering huge problem from the government.

  • muzayen tullu

    like some of u saying we ethiopian muslim people we have hunted for long time because we are muslim ,we did nothing to ethiopian government.this ethiopia dictotars are puting our fathers ,brothers, sisters and olamas in the jail for no resoan or else we are muslim and like they used to say in history ethiopia must be for only chirstian ,i dont think it is posible to finish muslim but they can hurt and they can kill like they are doing it know .totaly what every bady need to know is there is no freedom all in all in ethiopia.what i remember in this week on aljeezira they say jornalizim means in ethiopia it is terorism .that i say to my self am i ethiopia ? that is not that i am not ethiopia is the problem of dictators government.

  • zuber peace

    we Ethiopian Muslims are being butchered by the dictatorial government. we have no freedom of speech we have no freedom of religion no democracy no justice no human right just every thing is no no no. but instead innocent people are being jailed b/c they speak about their religion about the peace and security of the country b/c they speak about justice. more over many innocent people are killed by the ruling government.we are human beings so we need the support of our brother that is the whole people living in this universe.we should combat the dictatorial government in any part of the world. we Ethiopian people mainly Ethiopian Muslim need freedom of religion freedom of peach peace and human right as well so please let us we impose the pressure on this dictatorial government.

  • Ibn Omer

    An Ethiopian Christian, Girma Anwar Tadesse, testimony to the exemplary peacefulness of Ethiopian Muslims wrote:

    “Today I became a Muslim

    I am a Christian, in fact moments before sitting to write this I was in a Church worshipping my God. Nonetheless, like any peace loving person I was more than touched by the discipline of the Muslim protests in Addis Ababa(Finfinne). A peaceful protest and to add to that a silent one. How more peaceful can one be than being quiet? Muslim brothers and sisters, by keeping silent you spoke a thousand words. As journalist Mesfin Negash put it, you showed that ‘silence is the new loud’. I am not only impressed but also proud of you.” – end quote

  • Dear Mr Jasser:

    Are you trying to implement the Abuja declaration in Ethiopia by using the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (UCIRF) Cover? Do the USCIRF and Abuja Declaration have any thing in common? Are they strategically aligned to generate terror in Africa?

    Please read this article so that you understand that we know your strategy, and where you come from. You have the right to do the Right Thing. The Right things is to be transparent, accountable and responsive to the US Commission on religious Freedom.

    Ethiopia is a country that is open for all religions of the world. Most importantly those religions that promote GPS= Good Governance, Progressive Prosperity, and Sustainable Security!

    Please review the Islamic Sharia countries of Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and see how well they promote GPS? Do you recommend Sharia law and fundamental Political Islam for the USA?

    Does the USA know what you are upto I wonder what the Patriots Act is doing? if some one like you can travel to Ethiopia and in 24 hours declares that there is no Religious Freedom to Promote Radical Islam of the US perspective in Ethiopia! I doubt if the USA knows you are promoting religious intolerance on its behalf.

    The good thing is that the US will take time to review and research your activities and trust that you promote GPS and not intolerance.

    With respect to learn from your perspective, please find attached the Abuja perspective below and see where you stand

    Link to Abuja Declaration.

  • you did it well and again you need to do more just to keep the voice of the voiceless here in the horn of africa turn by turn

  • Ibn Omer

    So much for EPRDF’s supporters shameless accusation of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser as “biased”.

    The extreme nature of the Ruling party of Ethiopia is such that it can’t fool the likes of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser who is known to strongly oppose Muslims in the U.S. that he describes as “Wahhabi”. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser would have been the first man to applaud Ethiopian Government’s effort to fight “Wahabbism”, if the claim was valid. Dr. Jasser’s nomination to the UCIRF was challenged by many in the United stated because of his biased views against Muslim right’s organizations such as CAIR. The allegations against Dr. Zuhdi Jasser are detailed in the “Petitioned The U.S. Senate – Zuhdi Jasser and Robert George Do Not Belong on the USCIRF”

    Please Search and read the full petition statement.

    an excerpt:
    “The appointment of Dr. Zuhdi Jasser to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a contradiction to the goals of the USCIRF for the following reasons:

    1.) Most problematically, Jasser allies himself with and receives funding from anti-Muslim organizations and personalities who work tirelessly to curb the religious and civil liberties of Muslims in the USA.

    Jasser’s organization has received funding, to the tune of $100,000 from a major backer of Rick Santorum, Foster Friess. Friess was featured as one of the major backers of Islamophobic organizations in the Center for American Progress’s groundbreaking report, Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.

    According to the Washington Post,

    “Jasser received a $100,000 donation from Christian conservative financier Foster Friess, who is now bankrolling the super-PAC supporting Rick Santorum’s presidential bid. Jasser declined to elaborate on exactly how much Friess had given AIFD, though he said the financier contributed $70,000 to his organization in 2010 for a Muslim youth retreat hosted by the group. (Friess told MSNBC that he was backing Santorum because he is ‘incredibly versed in one of the number one issues of our time—and that is violent Islamic extremism.’)” – end quote

    The punishment of EPRDF’s blatant and continuous lies is that it would not be believed even if it were to speak the truth. Even Dr. Zuhdi Jasser — given his own position vis-a-vis Islamic groups — can’t be moved to support EPRDF. EPRDF and its supporters are pathetic liars that they can’t even enlist the support of people allegedly having similar goals.

  • kero

    You are really rubbish of this century, amazing how your mind denay the reality on the ground. WAYANEs’ are always lying,I do not know when they tell us truth, they are not Ethiopians, that is why they cheat our resources and money and kept outside the country, you might be on of them, try to take civic education (not the one given by TPLF).

  • SELAM LAGERE

    Dear Mr. Najib Mohammed ( or is it Haji Najib Mohammed of the FIRST HIJRAH FOUNDATION OF DC……?)

    Since you took the liberty to single me out, I hope you will indulge me and allow me to respond. As I clearly outlined in my previous comment , the article written by Dr.Zuhdi Jasser ( an Arab American Muslim (Sunni) of Syrian decent ) was neither fair nor balanced, so I once again beg to differ.
    Mr. Najib, your attempt to frame the great danger Ethiopia faces from Wahhabi Extremism as a struggle for “democracy”,is either grossly misguided or a deliberate attempt at deception. Democracy, which is rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic, is only a means to an end for Wahhabi Extremists and their supporters. Their definition of “democracy” is ONE MAN ONE VOTE ONE TIME !Once they get to control the levers of power, it is back to Sharia law; hijabs,burkas and subjugation for women and JIZYA ( form of tax) for the KAFIR (nonbelievers). If you fail to obey this it’s off to “chop chop square” for beheadings and amputations galore. As you sated,Ethiopian Muslims and Christians have lived together in peace and harmony for centuries. We are linked together culturally, socially, historically and through family ties. Most importantly, we share the same country and destiny. The reason this has happened is because leaders of both faiths have preached peace, tolerance and harmony as you tried to show with carefully chosen verses from the Quran. However, a new breed of Wahhabi clerics have sprang up over the last decade or so who have chosen to renounce the peaceful traditions of their for fathers and preach a brand of Islam that encourages division ,violence and hatred with the ultimate goal of obtaining Political Dominance, since peaceful coexistence is anathema to Wahhabism .These Wahabi preachers don’t point out to the Suras you kindly shared with us but rather to other Suras in the Quran that call for violence against non “believers ” ( i.e. Jews & Christians ).

    Sura 4: 89: But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and slay (kill) them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them. Suretul Al-Nisah 4:89

    Mohammed said, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” Saih Al Bukhari Volume. 9 Number 57.

    Tefsir for sura 9:29 Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

    Their message is not love but hate, not unity but division , not peace but JIHAD. As a result, numerous churches have been burned in different parts of the country and Ethiopian Sufi Muslims have been prohibited from practicing their religious traditions and their Mosques have been destroyed. To dismiss all of this with the statement that , “Wahhabism is overused and abused in order to justify the repressions of Muslims” is at best callous if not out right condoning of such reprehensible acts of violence and terror.
    So , Mr . Najib , if you are a true democrat at heart, a human rights advocate (including WOMEN’S RIGHTS), a good place to start will be by RENOUNCING & REPUDIATING these WAHHABI CLERICS and calling all peace loving Ethiopians back to our roots of peaceful coexistence. Neither cosying up to Sheik Sharik ( Egyptian Imam who spoke at a recent meeting hosted by FIRST HIJRAH FOUNDATION )who called Ethiopian Muslims to “arm themselves and over throw the “christian” government in Ethiopia,nor having individuals like Dr.Zuhdi Jasser become spokes persons for Ethiopian Muslims will help Ethiopians.As for you, being an apologist for Wahhabism and creating a safe heaven for Wahhabists by supporting them financially and being an agent of misinformation to lull peace loving Ethiopians to sleep, is aking to becoming a foot solider for ISLAMOFASCISTS.ISLAMOFASCISM brought us 911, 7/7, the Taliban, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram to name a few.The world has seen enough!
    Ethiopia is at a cross roads and Ethiopians are faced with a stark choice. Keep moving forward into the 21st century or regress back to the STONE AGES. Mr. Najib, you can’t ” have your cake and eat it too”. I hope you will be brave enough to make the RIGHT CHOICE!

    P.S. I have included a list of important links that back my claims with FACT.

    (1). http://www.firsthijrah.com/ hosted Sheik Shakir and also runs a chat room on PalTalk called Ethiopian Muslims Interfaith Dialogue that spews messages of violence and hate 24/7 and is the meeting place for Wahhabis.
    (2)Sheik Sharik’s( Egyptian Imam) speech in English calling Ethiopian Muslims to JIHAD : http://www.awrambatimes.com/?p=6241
    (3).Churches being burnt in Ethiopia : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX9gILYFLkg
    (4). Ethiopian Wahhabi clerics radicalizing peace loving Ethiopian Muslims: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joIcRLVxtYI, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAfUhxZ6vMI

    Non Amharic speaking readers of this article and the comments can go to Paltalk and join discussions in other rooms that preach peaceful coexistence and there will be people who would gladly translate the youtube clips for you and share with you other important information.

  • [...] Source: Georgetown Journal Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle +1 [...]

  • [...] [Georgtown Journal] From Somalian anarchy to Eritrean and Sudanese tyranny and civil strife, the Horn of Africa has long been a turbulent region. A notable exception has been the nation of Ethiopia. That might be changing. [...]

  • Najib Mohammed

    I am amazed to read the comments by Selam Lagere and Global Divine Belai in response to the balanced and fair report by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. Why it is some Ethiopians become so nationalistic that they care less about justice and equality. “My country Right or Wrong” can only beget Tyranny and injustice. Ethiopia Deserves better.

    Islam is not new to Ethiopia. It has evolved over 14 centuries all over the country. The teaching of the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad has served as guiding principles to Ethiopian Muslims. Given the rich culture and respect for their own belief system, Ethiopian Muslims have practiced what they learned from the Qur’an when dealing with others. Their peaceful co-existence with other religions in Ethiopia is a testimony to that.

    “Invite all to the Way of Your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and have dialogue with them (Jews and Christians) in ways that are best and; most gracious; for your God knows best…..” (Qur’an 16:125)

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion, truth stands out clear from error.” (Qur’an 11:256)

    In the final analysis, the national aspiration of all Ethiopians can only be achieved when fundamental human rights are observed; when democracy prevails; when the majority rules; when the right of the minority is recognized; when all Ethiopians are treated equally regardless of their ethnic, social, cultural or religious background. Let us not antagonize one another and let us not fear each other. Let us understand our people are suffering from absolute poverty and hunger. The AIDS disease is ravaging our people that about 3 million die from it every year. Don’t try to marginalize Ethiopian Muslims by fear mongering. Wahabism is overused and abused in order to justify the repressions of Muslims. We should stop using old tricks to saw the seed of hatred and division. Thank God the majority of Ethiopian Christians and Muslims will not fall for such propaganda.

    Only through the rule of law, unity and understanding that we can serve our country.

  • Here is the Weakileak Perspective of Ethiopia’s Generous Accommodation of the Abrahamic Covenants and their current political outfits.

    Remember: I put out the Ethiopian Perspective of Universal God and the Global 7 Billion children of God and Ethiopia’s accommodation of the new religion of democracy, theocracy and Free Market Economy along side with the traditional Ethiopioan Nation and Nationality faiths

    For the record, here is the US Embassy and Wikileak’s perspective to make the discussion interesting!

    Here is the link to the cable entitled “09ADDISABABA1674, WAHABISM IN ETHIOPIA AS “CULTURAL IMPERIALISM”

  • SELAM LAGERE.

    A WRONG DIAGNOSIS LEADS TO THE WRONG RX.

    Dear Dr. Zuhdi Jasser;

    I read your article with great interest and was taken aback by the shallowness of your diagnosis and your misguided RX. ( hope your patients in your day job fair better!) You either didn’t take the time to do your homework or you conveniently left some very important truths about the history of Islam in Ethiopia and the root causes of the current problem.

    HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE.

    King Negash granted refuge to the family of the Prophet Mohammad who arrived at Aksum while fleeing from their pagan persecutors. The Prophet Mohammad didn’t forget the kindness of the Ethiopian King and in the sayings (hadith) of the Prophet that have been recorded and passed on for generations, it is noted that ‘Abyssinia is a land of justice in which no one is oppressed.’” ( COMPARE THIS TO MODERN DAY SAUDI ARABIA WHERE THERE IS ZERO TOLERANCE FOR RELIGOUS FREEDOM OTHER THAN THE WAHABI BRAND AND WHERE MIGRANT WORKERS INCLUDING ETHIOPIANS ARE ABUSED IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE !)

    Through out the centuries, since that time, Ethiopian Christians, Muslims and followers of other traditional religions have lived by and large in peaceful coexistence, in spite of the operations they faced by the various rulers that have come and gone.

    REALITY ON THE GROUND

    Over the past two decades , Ethiopian Muslims have been freely practicing their religion and building Mosques through out Ethiopia. The number of Mosques in Addis Ababa the capital are now more than Orthodox churches even though over eighty percent of the residents of Addis are Christians.The current conflict is a direct result of an effort to spread WAHABISM in Ethiopia leading to political control and instating Sharia law in Ethiopia , there by fulfilling an age old dream of followers of WHABISM to create an Islamic state in Ethiopia. At this point I refer you to the Abuja Declaration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abuja_Declaration) that states this explicitly as a goal not only for Ethiopia but for the continent as a whole. I also refer you to the cable sent by the US embassy in Addis about the threat of WHABISM in Ethiopia . ( cable 09ADDISABABA1674, WAHABISM IN ETHIOPIA AS “CULTURAL IMPERIALISM”:http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/07/09ADDISABABA1674.html).

    It is not , as you tried to misinform readers of your article, to restrict religious freedom but rather to ensure that all religions continue to coexist peacefully in Ethiopia, that the current measure has been taken by the Ethiopian government.

    PLAN OF ACTION.

    All peace loving Ethiopians of all religious faiths and traditions as well as their peace loving foreign friends have only one choice. ROOT OUT ISLAMIC EXTREMISM (AKA WAHABISM) from Ethiopia and continue to nurture and cultivate peaceful coexistence among it’s citizens. As for your prescription, my humble suggestion to you is to take it to where it is in DIRE NEED i.e Saudi Arabia where Christians and followers of other religions are forced to practice their religion in hiding, Syria (your ancestors land) where Christians and Muslims who are not of the WAHABI brand are being kidnapped , beheaded and fleeing for their lives by the thousands while the WAHABI funded groups are destroying that ancient land before our very eyes. If your intentions are sincere and your motives pure you will take this to heart. As for Ethiopia , the good book says ” Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God” (Pslams 68:31). Both the Hadith and the Bible are on the side of all peace loving Ethiopians!

    PEACE & BLESSINGS !

  • Re: The Ethiopian Perspective on Universal faith and Freedom for GPS

    Ethiopia has over 7,500 recorded history of Governance with excellent track record of religious freedom to all global citizens! The Abrahamic Covenants were authorized and promoted by Ethiopians, starting from Melqetsedek and Abraham, Jethro and Moses, Queen of Sheba and Solomon, Queen Candice’s treasure and St Philip and King Negash and Prophet Mohammad!

    Ethiopia’s perspective is GPS= Good Governance, Progressive Prosperity and Sustainable Security for all!

    I read with interest the Georgetown University article about the advance of extremism and how best to address it by giving it more freedom. No, sir! We advance freedom with GPS!

    I would like to counter propose an Ethiopian perspective. The US governance is merely 235 years old and Ethiopia is the only independent nation in the world that has never been colonized, although every ten years or so there are attempts to dominate its sovereignty. As such the Georgetown perspective of Freedom in Ethiopia should first explore Ethiopia’s GPS:

    Ethiopia is the origin of both the Lucy and Edenic Civilizations as such has given rise to a series of civilizations. There are over 120 Nations and Nationalities with their own faith, culture and traditions.

    The Current Ethiopian constitution states clearly that the Ethiopian “We the People includes all nations and nationalities. If we compare this with the American We the people of some 235 years ago, it only included Rich White Anglo-Saxon men and the Women, and other nationalities were not included and to-date, we have civil rights movements for women, blacks, asians and native americans to be included in the “We the People ” construct.

    The recent series of new laws to protect women against violence and equal pay for equal service signed by President Barack Obama is a case in point. In short the American democracy is a work in progress as it should be. It is critical to compare the two constitutions interms of its provisions for all peoples and all faiths!

    The Ethiopian case is the construct of Universal God that is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipresent as well as the father of all humanity with no discrimination of all Global living 7 Billion and dead 9 Billion people needs to be considered.

    The Ethiopian Shabaka (25th Pharaoh) ruled over the lower and upper nile that includes present day Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt. The Ethiopian Melketsedek anointed the Babylonian Diaspora Abraham, the Ethiopian Priest educated Moses on Good Governance, etc. So in effect the Ethiopians created and anointed the Abrahamic Covenants that includes the current three versions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and Ethiopia needs to be given appropriate credit first!

    As such the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba gave refuge to Judaism some 3,000 years ago and Queen Candice brought Christianity to Ethiopia via her treasurer and then King Negasi gave refuge to the Prophet’s family and Islam flourished in Ethiopia while the prophet was alive on earth. So Ethiopian Islam is the original accurate faith being practiced in Ethiopia as are Christianity and Judaism.

    In short The Ethiopian consensus Governance has been very good for the Covenants of Abraham, by anointing Abraham in the fist place and giving refuge to all version of the Abrahamic Covenant.

    Within this historical background, it is critical to explore the current challenges of people of faith in Ethiopia. First, the constitution clearly states that there is no state religion supported by separation of faith and governance.

    The question is not about freedom of faith but the ability of some sects of some faiths accepting the right of other sects to practice their faith. There are 7 Billion people on earth and the Abrahamic Covenants make up some 3 billion of these. So the other 4 Billion people have to come to Ethiopia and share their faiths too! The question is that they need to appreciates the 120 Nations and Nationalities who have their own faith and culture and would want the 7 Billion citizens of the Globe to respect their faiths too.

    So the real challenge of Aramaic Covenant Faiths is to respect the 120 Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia and their respective faiths first! The American Commissioner needs to consult with Ethiopian history, culture and perspective first!

    The Ethiopian Nations and Nationalities are currently embarked on the Grown and Transformation of Agenda of GPS: Good Governance, Progressive Prosperity and Sustainable Security!

    What do the Abrahamic Covenants have to offer for Ethiopia’s GPS (Good Governance, Progressive Prosperity and Sustainable Security) is the real question that Georgetown University and the author of this article have to answer?

    Freedom for Prosperity and Good Governance is the question of the day!

    I look forward to learn from your diverse perspective.

    Thanking you for your attention and alternative perspective, I remain;

    Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
    Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc.
    http://www.GlobalBelaiJesusus.com

    Remember: Always Do the Right Thing in the Right way and you will almost always be Right! If in doubt make a cheek list of Right Things to Do!

  • Tesfaye

    An excellent, judicious and sensible article, written on the current religious issue in Ethiopia.
    Our government has to study such advises from within and outside and get ready to correct its current course.
    We are going to get aground and we need to correct our course.
    Now are good times for reconciliation and establishment of religious harmony and the settlement of many unresolved issues in Ethiopia.
    A strong army is good for defense of external enemy but no good enough to save from internal SUNAMY!
    Be wise listen to advice and act now before it gets too late and difficult to find your escape path.
    I am not threating but trying to share my two pence.
    Thank you

  • Selamawit Solomon

    -But the Human right,Religious right abuse and oppressing of diffred ideas,imprisoned killing and torchering of Oppositions just started in July of 2011 ????
    What a Joke ,I urge the writter to review study and analize the Ethiopian Regime ruling system since 1991 -talk to day to day people in Ethiopia if they are discriminated because of their Opinion or because they are from diffrent Ethnics than the Current Ethno-dictatorial Tigrean Elites etc…more can be said but for now i rest my case

  • kero

    Thank you Dr Zuhdi
    Your report is fantastic, unbaised and fact.
    The Ethiopian muslims ask three simple questions:
    1) We elect our religious leaders democratically without the intrference of govt
    2) Stop the govt to impose the Ahbash sect to the Ethiopian muslim by force
    3) Administer our only religiuos institution Awolia school by board elected by muslim community.

    Rather than answering to these questions the govt kill innocent children, old age peoples and young peoples infront of the protester in day time, this is really shoking for me, this party (TPLF) do not have any moral and responsibility for our beloved and respectiful people, they are creating problems on problems, peoples are suffering from poverity, lack of jobs, unjustice possible to mention all type of violent activities in during thid regim. The are labelling/grouping religious people, journalist, students, lecturers, etc with name of terrorist if anyone opposing their attitudes.
    The 4th questions is free our innocent leaders, teachers, preachers,artists,journalists, and others brothers sisthers who are imprisoned due to asking for freedom exercising religion. And the 5th question will be the TPLF should be suited for killing innocent peoples, we have clear evidence that the TPLF polices kill in-front of us.

    Many thanks

  • [...] following appeared in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs on March 11, [...]

  • E. Rashid

    The finding is very accurate and true, we have been saying the same thing for years no one notices that. Here we go, the governments agents in the foreign ministry now plan how to counter this finding, good luck with them. I have no clue how to refute truth.

  • [...] following appeared in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs on March 11, [...]

  • Jemal

    Thank you Dr Zuhdi
    You report is very clear, unbaised and fact.
    The Ethiopian muslims ask three simple questions:
    1) We elect our religious leaders democratically without the intrference of govt
    2) Stop the govt to impose the Ahbash sect to the Ethiopian muslim by force
    3) Administer our only religiuos institution Awolia school by board elected by muslim community.

    Rather than answering to these questions the govt give different name to the people.
    The 4th questions is free our innocent leaders, teahers, preachers,artists,journalists, and others brothers sisthers who are inprisions only why you asking the above questions

  • Amama

    Thanks a lot Dr. Zuhri J. Your report is based on expert observation & probably interview with different people and bodies/ institutions. You have touched the problems the ruling party is creating & above all put your recommendation in your report. I would love to quote “where there is religious freedom, there is stability, harmony and prosperity, and where religious liberty is lacking, so are these blessings”, this article is self explanatory for ruling party, hope they will get it. Finally, I would love to share readers, the Central Statistical Agency Report (2007) as an instance, to get an insight at the percentage of Muslim in the country. I quoted from page 17 of the report, 2007.

    2.4. Religious Composition
    Data obtained from the 2007 census are classified under six categories of religious affiliation. According to the data given in Table 2.3, 43.5 percent of the total population was Orthodox Christian and 33.9 percent was Muslim. Protestant and traditional religious group followers accounted for 18.6 percent and 2.6 percent respectively. As shown below by the pie charts, the same patterns, but with significant percentage variation (except in the data for Catholic, Traditional and Other religions), were observed between urban and rural population of the country.
    Table 2.3: Population Size of Regions by Religion and Place of Residence: 2007
    Religion Urban +rural Urban Rural
    Number % Number % Number %
    All Persons 73,918,505 100 11,956,170 100 61,962,335 100
    Orthodox 32,138,126 43.5 7,070,932 59.1 25,067,194 40.5
    Protestant 13,746,787 18.6 1,614,145 13.5 12,132,642 19.6
    Catholic 536,827 0.7 66,468 0.6 470,359 0.8
    Muslim/Islam 25,045,550 33.9 3,098,275 25.9 21,947,275 35.4
    Traditional 1,957,944 2.6 39,252 0.3 1,918,692 3.1
    Others 471,861 0.6 67,098 0.6 404,763 0.7

    Ethiopian people can judge, how CSA is crazy.

    Thanks

  • Alemu Nenko

    I see this article is best piece to explain Ethiopian Muslim situation in intelligible way. As I’m Ethiopian, historically I know that the successive regimes did not treat all religions in Ethiopia equally. Despite the fact, we Ethiopian people lived with harmony and peace for centuries while we have different religion and multiple cultures, than any other countries in East Africa. Since coming on power in 1995, the current government of Ethiopia has treated all religions equally. But, what is happening in Ethiopia now is appalling, immoral, and indeed, we Ethiopians never and ever expect such kind of response from our government. It of course it needs immediate solution through negotiation, if the government needs security, piece, and sustainability of our development initiatives!

  • ousman

    Dear Dr. Zuhdi Jasser I would like to thank you for your great analysis and testimony

  • Abu Ammar

    Since USCIRF reports to the congress and the President, I hope the report will help the Obama adminstration put more pressure on Ethiopian government for abusing freedom of religion. This is unbiased information about
    Ethiopian government’s involvement in the religious affairs of Ethiopian Muslims.

  • dejux

    It is good article but it is personal report. Any ways good to expose the regime’s repression.

  • Najib Mohammed

    Dear Dr.M. Zuhdi Jasser member of Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), thank you for this fair report. Freedom of religion is above all types of freedoms. The Ethiopian government can lie about its involvement in the religious affairs of its people but the evidence is as clear as daylight. We have audio recordings of government officials discussing the imposition of the Ahbash sect with representative of Ahbash leaders from Lebanon and in his last statements to the parliament the late prime minister defiantly promised that the Ahbashization of Ethiopian Muslims will by all means succeed. The current situation is even more frightening for Ethiopian Muslims. Muslims homes are selectively raided and searched and looted by masked security forces every night. It is reported that Muslims are becoming sleepless anticipating the appearance of the feared federal police at any moment. Women and children are most terrorized segment of this violation. There are towns in southern wollo where the youth vanished and are been sought by their relatives. Unless the free world specially the US heed to this tragedy, what is feared might take place. The peaceful and peace loving Ethiopian Muslims are being pushed to the extreme. The government in Ethiopia is violating the constitutional rights of its citizens and the day to day actions it takes shows that it care less for Human Right.

  • [...] Georgetown Journal of International Affairs   March 11th, 2013 | [...]

  • Ambshka

    The recommendations don’t go far enough. In my opinion, repression of religious groups is only one element of the absolute control the EPRDF wants to exercise over our people. So, the solution is not only religious freedom, but respect to human rights, the rule of law and all democratic principles.

    Awol Adem,
    Apparently, you have missed a few points.
    1) The size of the muslim population is not cooked: check all censuses starting from 1985. It is consistent.
    2) The type of Islam practiced in Ethiopia is called Sufism; it doesn’t matter how you call yourself. The question is, how is your sect classified. Shrines, celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, singing, generally a relaxed attitude towards life, more-or-less peaceful coexistence with followers of other faiths… all of these are characteristics of Sufism. And, our country is full of those.

  • WeyGUD

    “Indeed, across the world, study after study affirms that where there is religious freedom, there is stability, harmony and prosperity, and where religious liberty is lacking, so are these blessings.

    Thus, the only way the radicals can win is if governments, in the name of fighting these extremists, repeatedly abuse their people’s freedom.

    In Ethiopia, as elsewhere, freedom, not just for the sake of human rights but for peace and security as well, is the antidote to extremism.”

    When will the dictator TPLF understand these?

  • Magarssa

    Dear Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, thank you for telling the world the truth about the current suffering of Ethiopian Muslims. I really appreciate the conclusion and the recommendations you drown from your assessment on the ground. Your finding need to be communicated to Obama administration so that something could be done to tell vividly to the so called Ethiopian government to respect the country’s constitution, human right, and the rule of law.
    Of course I missed from your timeline and data some of the brutal killings executed by the government security in different part of the country, would be great if it was included in the report.

  • Awol Adem

    Well, it is a good article but not able to understand what it means Ethiopian Muslims are Suffis. I am 30 years old and born as a Muslim but never heard or some one called me with this name. We call each other Muslims and there is no name to be called other than Islam. As for Ethiopian Muslims are 1/3rd of the total population according to the government recent census, when was the last time Ethiopian government told the truth regarding population data and the country economic situation? they are data cookers and they will never tell us the truth.

  • ali imam

    Counter Extremism with Freedom in Ethiopia ? what

  • Ahmed

    It is interesting report which encompasses all members who are in-need to be asked. As your finding shows the government is oppressing the rights of Muslim community rather than working together to combat unrest throughout the country.
    In my opinion, the governments anti-terror policy violates human rights including religious rights. Which in-turn might produce terrorists by itself. The actual thing is, the govt itself is terrorizing the people.

    Anyways thanks for your report.

  • Nasrudin Ousman

    I would like to sincerely appreciate Dr. Zuhdi Jasser for his honest testimony as well as his correct recommendation to address the plights of Ethiopian Muslims. Religious repression cannot be a panacea for the perceived threat of extremism. Although the Horn of Africa is admittedly a volatile region, the problems facing Ethiopian Muslims has nothing to do with regional or international extremist groups. Ethiopia has a uniquely peaceful Muslim society. The problem has everything to do with Constitutionality, and the Rule of Law, which has been consistently violated by the government. Ethiopian Muslims are demanding through peaceful means the respect of their constitutional rights and freedoms, which have blatantly been violated by the government. In its bid to present itself an ally of the US War on Terror, the Ethiopian government is trying to demonize its own Muslim population, and has been committing several atrocities against Muslims. Such repression and senseless atrocities are in fact the breeding grounds for religious extremism.

  • [...] serves as a Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).   georgetown journal Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle [...]

  • [...] 12, 2013 (Georgetown University Journal of International Affairs) – From Somalian anarchy to Eritrean and Sudanese tyranny and civil strife, the Horn of [...]

  • hussen

    well articulated the harsh situation of EPRDF’s religious oppression on Ethiopian Muslims

  • I doubt the accuracy of some of the data.
    But let me save myself of fact-check as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ weekly buletine might respond to it.

  • [...] published on Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, on March 11, 2013, titled “Counter Extremism with Freedom in Ethiopia“, authored by M. Zuhdi Jasser, who serves as a Commissioner at the U.S. Commission on [...]