Pro-Israel Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn recently declared a state of emergency in response to a wave of massive protests by that country’s 35% Oromo people, 85% of them Muslims. For decades the Oromo have been the targets of government oppression and political repression. The frequency and intensity of Oromo resistance has increased in recent months, and it was highlighted by a cross-armed gesture made during the Olympics by Feyisa Lilesa, an Oromo who ran the marathon for Ethiopia. (Holding the arms above the head to form an “x” is a gesture of Oromo resistance). Fearing for his life, Feyisa Lilesa is staying with his relatives in United States at the moment.
During Muslim Edd festival, Oromo protested against Ethiopian government persecution of country’s Muslim majority. In response the security forces fired alive bullets killing 500 people. In addition, by at least one account the government’s recent confiscation of Oromo farmland for purposes of commercial development for Israel and Dutch businesses sparked protests around the country.
US-Israel backed Tigray Christian minority government is terrified by the emerging solidarity between the Muslim Oromo and Ethiopia’s Christian Amhara people. In the past, successive Ethiopian regimes had encouraged hostility between the two in order to keep Tigray elites in power. At a recent rallies, attracting as many as two million people – Amhara activists have proclaimed: I am not Oromo but I stand with my Oromo brothers, and We are all Oromo.
On October 10, UNHRC called for an independent investigation of government violent crackdown of peaceful protests.
On October 14, European Union high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, called Desalegn on phone to condemn his government actions. She highlights the slippery slope that a state of emergency brings about for the compliance with civil liberties and urges the prime minister to comply with human rights standards as provided for by the Ethiopian constitution.
Ethiopian leaders in Israel and United States are appealing Obama administration to help the protesters by imposing sanctions against Ethiopian regime. There are 140,000 Ethiopian Jews and Christians living in Israel.
In July 2016, Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ethiopia. He urged Desalegn to let 9,000 Ethiopian Jews immigrate to occupied Palestine and be treated like dogs by the Israeli Jews.
On October 19, 2016, Eritrea-based American journalist Thomas C. Mountain in an article, entitled, Revolutionary Islam And Regime Change In Ethiopia, wrote: Presently all the liberation resistance movements in Ethiopia are ethnically based with their senior leadership in exile, mainly in neighboring Eritrea. The only organization with a national presence is the revolutionary Islamic religious community, whose recently freed leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.
The revolutionary Islamic community in Ethiopia has a nation wide network of mosques and religious schools, with very respected locally based leaders and can provide the only legal point of assembly in the country.
Just as in the Iranian revolution in the late 1970’s where the only place revolutionaries could gather without being attacked by the police is the mosques, especially for large gatherings for Friday Prayers, the Islamic community in Ethiopia can provide the only place for the opposition to meet especially now that any and all gatherings are banned under Martial Law and the State of Emergency.
The regimes Agazi death squads have shoot to kill orders and the only place of safety for meetings is in the mosques, though how long the regime will tolerate this is not certain.
Having attacked the Islamic community four years ago, gunning down many and locking up the recently released leadership, the Ethiopia regime may be planning on cracking down on Muslims in a new wave of terror.
The maxim is oppression breeds resistance and even the Washington Post’s Editorial Board knows this, having pointed out how martial law and an iron fist will only lead to further protests and the eventual explosion that will drive the regime into exile and leave Ethiopia without any leadership.
The ensuing power vacuum could see the revolutionary Islamic community taking leadership and bringing unity to Ethiopia, for even if the country is divided along ethnic lines all Muslims no matter what tribe worship together in their mosques.
Most Ethiopians are muslims and their religious practices for centuries past forbid them from discriminating by ethnicity when it comes to their worship. The very idea is foreign to the country.
And Ethiopia’s Muslims practice a very tolerant Sunni variant and have lived side by side with their Christian brothers and sisters for over a millennia, sitting together to break bread and even intermarrying. Thank god the wahabi virus has not yet taken root in the country.