Ethiopia: Muslims protests unrelated to Assasa incident, Committee says

The Assasa incident should not be linked to the protests in Addis Ababa, member of the protester’s committee told a local newspaper.

It is to be recalled that last Friday, May 4, supporters of a detained imam (preacher) stormed a police station in Assasa town, west Arsi zone, 220 km south of Addis Ababa. The incident left four civilians dead and ten policeman injured while a post office and a police station were burned down. (Read here).

On the other hand, for most of the past four months, Muslim protesters in the capital city, Addis Ababa, have been making demands related to administration of Awelia school(institute), re-election of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs supreme Council Leadership as well as the cessation of alleged indoctrination of Al-Ahbash ideology.

However, the two situations should not be linked, according to Ahmedin Jebel, member of the committee of the protesters in Addis.

The incident in Assasa(Arsi) has no relation with our demands’ and ‘presenting the two as if related is unacceptable’, he said.

Ahmedin Jebel’s statement didn’t indicate to whom the correction is intended. However, various local and foreign news outlets have been connecting the two situations.

In a related news, the protesters committee issued a statement on Thursday welcoming the resignation of the Islamic Affairs supreme Council, saying that ‘we recognize that the process to respond to our demands is underway’.

Even though the statement said that ‘we feel it is inappropriate that the Ulema-council should oversee the leadership transition process, as it was part of the outgoing leadership and lacks the capacity’ it called on ‘the Muslim community to make preparation for the upcoming election’.

The statement criticized recent remarks made by the Ministry of Federal Affairs as unhelpful. On the other hand, it deemed the Prime Minister’s remarks in mid-April as reassuring of the separation of state and religion. Yet, the Committee added, its implementation is to be seen.

Moreover, the committee urged the government to release those arrested in relation to the protests and prevent acts of intimidation.

As democracy and real peace are the only path that will deliver victory to the Muslim community’, the statement urged all who support the cause ‘to take extreme caution to avoid anything that could lead to violence in Mosques and elsewhere’.

No protests: In a related development, Mosques in the capital had been calm yesterday. Despite the calls by foreign based media and social networking sites for major demonstration after Friday prayers, there was no report of any demonstration.


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Daniel Berhane

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