I read your cover story on Islamic extremism in Ethiopia with a mixture of apprehension and anger at the government of Ethiopia, (It’s the nation’s headache too, Sep. 2013). Politically the current regime is not popular in the areas where your reporters have traveled to, its environs and beyond. The regime knows it, too, that it suffers from lack of popularity and acceptance. And this has everything to do with the growing trend of Islamic extremism in those areas; it has to do with the history of the federal police brutality in crushing members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) since the mid ‘90s. Your story rightly mentioned that “geographically a good number of Muslims in Ethiopia originate from eastern and south eastern part of the country.” Politically these areas are more sympathetic to opposition political parties fighting for the just causes of the Oromo people – Ethiopia’s majority ethnic group traditionally marginalized and brutalized by successive regimes in Ethiopia. Hundreds of young Oromo students have simply vanished from the Arsi and Bale regions in the past 20 years alone, and the police have openly brutalized innocent Oromo Muslims alleging they were linked to the now outlawed OLF and have pushed thousands of peaceful Muslims to take desperate measures in protest. Many young Oromo Muslims in these regions believe joining groups led by extremist clerics who preach Wahabism and in the mean time advocate for political freedom as a refugee from religious and political persecution. We have no one to blame for this trend but the government itself. I am not sure if the battle hasn’t been already lost; but if not the government must start tackling this problem first by addressing the political grievances of the young Oromo Muslims who are politically pushed aside, too vulnerable and serve as bait to trap thousands more.
Meda Welabu University /Bale
Get your facts clear
I read your lead story on Islamic extremism in Ethiopia (It’s the nation’s headache too, Sep. 2013). While you deserve appreciation in standing by the truth, I read some of your allegations with a sense of indignation. You made an outrageous attempt to taint the government’s handling of the matter as marred by a “fraudulent denial to distinguish between the real threat of extremism and the genuine demands of thousands of peaceful Muslim citizens.” A simple visit to one of the so-called “peaceful demonstrations” in Addis Ababa and elsewhere in the country will show you that a considerable number of “protestors” openly engage in distributing inciting brochures calling for the elimination of a “Christian state” from Ethiopia. You have tried to mention that the incident in Kofele involved a person named Abdurahman Kabeto but deliberately avoided the fact that Abdurahman attended the so-called rally fully armed. You have done a great job in bringing Fatima’s despair, but you should bring in the whole picture prevalent in most parts of the country; there are untold stories of worse magnitude to be uncovered before your poor and hasty conclusion to put the blame on the government. Tadele Beruhun
Islamic extremism is not the problem
I was utterly disappointed to read your magazine preaching Islamic extremism in Ethiopia is more worrisome than government brutality (It’s the nation’s headache too, Sep. 2013). Your reporters are one sided, and in denial of the ongoing government crackdown and police brutality against innocent Muslim protestors for the last 20 months. It was particularity offending to see a respected magazine such as yours serving as government mouthpiece when echoing its mantra of the existence of Islamic extremism to justify the ever increasing police brutality. Knowingly or unknowingly, your story revealed the miserable life of a mother who lost both her son and her grandson to police brutality. Who knows there may be hundreds of mothers who are met with the same fate and all you are able to tell us is how big the numbers of pilgrims have gotten in the past 20 years. It is the job of the state media to play the role of fear mongering and with an absolute monopoly of the electronics media they are doing it very well. I hope your next article on this matter begins with the problem of police brutality and not Islamic extremism.
A concerned Muslim citizen
It was unlike of your otherwise mature magazine to dwell into the issues of religious tension between the government in Ethiopia and Muslims and fail the least expectation of its readers, (It’s the nation’s headache too, Sep. 2013). Your distorted story alleged that “urbanite enlightened Muslims are in denial of the existence of extremism in Ethiopia and more worried about their own rights than the agonies of hundreds of Fatimas in rural Ethiopia.” May I need to remind you that it is the bold, peaceful and courageous movements of the urbanite enlightened Muslims that has brought the plight of thousands of Muslims to the attention of the international community? Our concern is not Islamic extremism; our concern is the cozy relationship between the government and its thugs who have manned the administration of the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council. We will continue to struggle peacefully and if the government of Ethiopia is not heeding to our call, be rest assured it will push millions of Muslims to take desperate measures; extremism is the least of it.
Addis Ababa University
In defense of your magazine
I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to you and your team for your courageous venture into the heart of the problems of Islamic extremism in today’s Ethiopia and the state’s ill approach in addressing this problem (It’s the nation’s headache too, Sep. 2013). However, I have seen a smear campaign against your magazine on social media denouncing your article which has kept its professional neutrality carefully, as a mere version of the state propaganda against the rights of Muslims in the country. Your article’s main theme was to show the growing trend of Islamic extremism, supported by data and real interviews and to reveal how the government in Ethiopia is using this fact to its advantage to manipulate the genuine question of millions of Muslims in the country. Your article clearly showed how “the government in Ethiopia (and its apologists) indiscriminately classify thousands of Muslims as extremists.” Unfortunately though, your ‘sin’ was to tell the truth that rights activists and opposition party members took the government’s inability to handle the situation properly as a “victory to show the brutalities of the police in handling the ongoing peaceful protests than its fraudulent denial to distinguish between the real threat of extremism and the genuine demands of thousands of peaceful Muslim citizens.” But what I found more unsettling is that it is in everyone’s domain in this country, be it in the government, opposition party members and rights activists, to assume they are – and should be – untouchable.
Addis Ababa University