Officials of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council during press briefing (Photo: Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council/Facebook)
Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council has expressed its discontent with a recent statement issued by the Oromia regional government communication bureau, citing a failure to accurately represent the sentiments and needs of the wider Muslim community in Ethiopia.
The Supreme Council said in a statement on Thursday, that a nine-member committee, which was established following the council’s emergency meeting on 28 May, is currently engaged in discussions with high-ranking officials from the federal government, with the aim of resolving the issue of demolition of Mosques.
Calling on the Muslim community to patiently wait for the outcome of the ongoing discussions, the council cautioned against potential exploitation of the situation by certain groups with political agenda, and urged them to refrain from any illegal acts.
The Oromia region communication bureau said in a presser on Wednesday, that it is carrying out a campaign of demolishing “illegal buildings” in more than 600 cities across the region, and defended the process as “constitutional and legal”.
Head of the bureau, Hailu Adugna noted that the campaign is not limited to Shaggar city and Mosques are not the only target as opposed to “false and politically tuned propaganda” waged by “organized internal and external extremists who work under the guise of religion”.
The statement came days after at least two civilians were killed and more than 40 people, including police officers suffered minor and serious injuries during a crackdown against Muslim protesters in and around the Grand Anuwar Mosque in the capital Addis Abeba on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) emphasized the need for security forces to exercise restraint in protest responses. In a statement released in connection to the protest about demolition of mosques in Shaggar city, the commission confirmed the death of two individuals on the Friday’s event.
The commission said an investigation to identify security officers who committed the killing is underway by an investigation team comprising officials from the Federal and Addis Abeba police commissions.
EHRC urged the release on bail of 140 individuals who had been arrested in the aftermath of the protests unless there is sufficient proof of criminal act and credible charges to be filed against them.
On 23 May the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of the Oromia Regional State said 19 Mosques were illegally demolished in Shaggar city alone & urged the regional government to immediately stop the demolitions and return to resolving the problem through dialogue. Earlier, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of Ethiopia has sent a letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeking an end to the demolitions and a solution to the problem. AS