After the release of a video by Islamic State on Sunday showing what the group said was the killing of 28 Ethiopian Christians, thousands of Ethiopians have taken to social media to express their shock and outrages. Many facebookers have changed their profile picture to black following by updates expressing their anger. “Wee hours of the morning here and I’m still devastated, flabbergasted and absolutely heartbroken since hearing the reports of the horrific loss we suffered at the hands of a group of sub humans…” wrote a facebooker, Zecharias Etyopia. “This made my stomach turn,” said Goitom Gebreluel, another Ethiopian who shared the news on his facebook wall.
Meanwhile, many are expressing their frustration at the official response given by Redwan Hussien, government spokesperson, who said it was not clear if the victims were Ethiopians and that the Ethiopian embassy in Cairo was investigating the matter. “At this point we cannot be sure if the victims are Ethiopians,” Redwan said.
“They’re not Ethiopians. They look Chinese to me. Take a class in PR 101,” wrote Mesfin Tekle, another Ethiopian, in response to Redwan’s statement. Speaking anonymously a young banker said, “It is painful that the government is trying to turn our sadness into a propaganda material. No official condolence to the bereaved is expressed; I have never felt let down like this,” he said.
Redwan also took the opportunity to warn Ethiopians leaving the country using various means. “If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe through the dangerous routes,” Redwan told Associated Press. However, his statement hasa ngered many who believe the government at home is to blame for the mass exodus of Ethiopians in recent years.
The 29 minute video showed purported Ethiopians beheaded and shot gruesomely. It was released on the militant’s social media outlets and couldn’t be verified by an independent source.
The United States government condemned the killings in “the strongest terms.” A spokeswoman for the White House said on Sunday “That these terrorist killed these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists’ vicious senseless brutality.”
The victims are believed to be migrants trying to reach Europe. The news came only a few days after African migrants (including Ethiopians) have experienced xenophobic attacks in South Africa, news of a boat that sank with hundreds of African migrant in Mediterranean, which many Ethiopians suspect is also carrying their fellow men and women and a civil war in Yemen that caught Ethiopian migrant workers trapped; many are believed to have been killed in Yemen.