Addis Standard Staffs
Addis Abeba, August 24/2020 – The Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) expressed grave concern after the recent shooting death of two Imams as well as attacks on Muslim scholars by security forces in west Arsi and west Hararghe zones of Oromia regional state.
The killings and attacks came in the backdrop of protests in Oromia region and subsequent excessive measures taken by security forces, exacerbating fears that it will escalate more conflicts.
Last week in Hassassa (Assasa), west Arsi, Sheik Umar Suleiman and his wife Fatuma were shot dead at their residence by security forces; their three month old child died a day later. Oromia Mujlis called it a “horrific crime.” Similarly, Sheik Qassim Abdul Rashid was shot and injured in Hassassa, The Majlis said he is currently undergoing treatment in Asella Referral Hospital. According the The VOA Amharic he was on his way out of a Mosque after prayers when he was shot.
In addition to that, the Oromia Majlis said that Ustaz Kiyar Taju Abdallah, a Muslim scholar in Shashamane, was shot a injured when security forces raided the Mosque where he was teaching the Quran at. An 18 year old student of his, Usman Ashim, was also hurt during the incident. Both are receiving medical treatment in Negelle and Melka Oda hospital respectively.
“A delegation led by Sheik Hajji Ibrahim, Oromia’s Islamic Affairs Council Head, visited the town of Hassassa to attend the funeral of Sheik Umar Suleiman,” the statement said, adding, “the next day, the delegation presented the information it gathered through its investigation to the Oromia Police Commission in a meeting attended by Sh. Hajji Ibrahim and Ararsa Merdasa, Oromia regional state Police Commissioner, among others.” The report gave details of the four incidents in West Arsi. “We are saddened to hear of such attacks and we are trying our best to ensure justice is served. We also call on the government to conduct a thorough investigation into these attacks on places of worship and religious leaders.” According to the statement, Oromia Police Commission has set up a committee to investigate the events.
On Sunday August 24, Sheik Abdullahi Kabeera was shot dead in Baadhesaa (Bedesa), west Hararghe, while he was presiding over a funeral procession of Abdulhakim Hamid a 10 year old who was child killed by security forces the previous day.
“He was loved by everyone, even government officials listened to his sermons,” Abdi, a resident of the city and a student of Sheik Abdullahi Kabeera said of the imam at Al-Taqwa mosque. Sheik Abdullahi was giving sermon at the burial of Abdulhakim. “When he was shot, an Ambulance was present at the scene but the Sheikh’s family were denied to use it. The body was taken by the youth to the Sheikh’s residence to prepare him for burial according to Islamic tradition but the overnight burial was also denied by security forces and the attendees including myself, were violently dispersed,” Abdi, who wants to be identified by his fir6name only, told Addis Standard. “The family were informed that the burial will be allowed in the morning with security forces attending the service.”
In a statement it released today, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council confirmed the circumstances of the shooting death of Sh. Abdallahi Kabeera. “Other than the Imam, a young man called Tura Mohammed sustained an injury and was hospitalized during the procession.”
It condemned the “continuous attacks on religious institutions including graveyards” and called on the government to “immediately investigate” and “ensure the safety of Muslim citizens by preventing further attacks” from happening.
Ahmed Arif, Sheik Abdullahi’s half brother told Addis Standard over the phone, “There was a protest going on and I think they shot him in light of the protest that was going on, we were given no further reason. They denied us burial yesterday because they feared protest would break out on behalf of my brother’s death.” he said, adding, “however a lot of people have attended his funeral including from surrounding towns; he was loved by everyone.”
Sheik Abdullahi was buried this morning with members of the security forces in attendance. He is survived by three children (two boys and one girl) and his wife.
Addis Standard contacted Bedesa City Administration Public Relations office, West Harrage Zone Administration Public Relations office and Oromia’s Special Police force Commander for information. All have declined to comment. Their comments will be included once information from respective offices are gathered.
Addis Standard’s attempts to each Oromia’s Islamic Affairs Supreme Council Head Sh. Hajji Ibrahim, were also to no avail. AS