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News Update: Addis Abeba, Amhara state Islamic Affairs Councils demand justice as death toll in Gonder rises to 21; thousands rally in Addis

Thousands of Muslims in Addis Abeba rallied this morning demanding justice to victim’s of yesterday’s attack in Gonder. Picture: Ustaz Bediru Hussien

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12 

Addis Abeba – The Addis Abeba Islamic Affairs’ High Council said in a statement this morning that the number of people killed in Gonder city yesterday has risen to 21, and that the attack was a “planned massacre”; the Council also mosques and Qur’ans were burned down, women were raped and properties belonging to Muslims in the city were destroyed.

Similarly, the Amhara regional state Islamic Affairs Council issued a statement demanding the regional government to stop the continuous attacks on the Muslim community and the destruction of their properties in the region and bring the criminals to justice.

The call came after a group of people attacked mourners at the funeral of Sheik Kamal Legas, a prominent local Sheik in the city on Tuesday 27 April. This morning thousands of Muslims in Addis Abeba took to the streets demanding justice in front of the Grand Anuwar Mosque in Addis Abeba.

Desalegn Tasew, Amhara state peace and security bureau head, blamed the violence on unnamed group of people who attacked the mourners with rocks blaming them that they were collecting rocks from an Orthodox church located next to a mosque. “The conflict between individuals showed a tendency of growing into group conflict,” Desalegn told regional media.

The Amhara regional state government in its part said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of life, limb and property in the conflict” and extended its “condolences to the families of the victims,” but fell short of stating both the number of causalities and the extent of the damage. “The state of Amhara has no shoulder to carry extremist ideology in any form and its resultant violence that will cause the loss of life, damage to property. Therefore, it will take all necessary legal and appropriate action against perpetrators,” the statement from last night said.

In the statement it issued this morning “on the burning of mosques and the Qur’an, the rape of women, and the destruction of property,” the Addis Abeba Islamic Affairs’ High Council said that “Mosques were set ablaze and massive destruction of property was carried out by a mob blinded by bigotry which clearly remarks Islamophobia.” 

The council further blamed the government, the Amhara state media, and some political party leaders for their statement which failed to depict the “barbaric acts committed” on the Muslim community by these “extremists,” and added that “the Muslim community is deeply saddened by the attempt to portray the crimes that claimed the lives of 21 Muslims as is if it was caused by a civil strife caused by border dispute to cover up for those who want to destroy the country.”  

The council demanded the government to clearly state the severity of the damage and bring the perpetrators to justice. It also called on the entire Muslim community to handle the situation peacefully and to ensure that such attacks would not be inflicted in the future. In an emergency statement issued last night, the Council has called off an even that was planned to day in which the Council was to receive a plot of land given to it by the Addis Abeba City Administration Cabinet in Lemi Kura Sub-City, Ayat Village for the construction of Imam Ahmed Mosque and Islamic Center.

“We have received information from Addis Abeba Peace and Security and the Mayor’s Office that some extremists and irresponsible leaders embedded in the sub-city structure are preparing for a major unrest tomorrow,” the statement cautioned.

The Amhara region Islamic Affairs Council in its part denounced the attacks and promised that it would design a strategy and coordinate the Muslim communities to struggle against such attacks in the future. It also called upon all Muslim communities across the world to denounce the attack in any way possible and to be part of the next solution. The Council further called upon other religious leaders, who it said should be concerned the looting, persecution, and abuse the Muslim community is facing, to denounce the acts of violence against the Muslim community and to advise their followers.

In the 13 point resolution it issued, the regional state Islamic Affairs Council expressed its concerns that among others, discussions that took place with regional authorities in January this year in connection with the tension around Epiphany celebrations were not given due attention, and led to the current violence.

Gonder city Administration peace and security bureau said last night that the security was violence was put under the control of regional security forces and the resident of the area were cooperating with the security forces to create a stability. “We would like to thank all the people of Gonder who have joined hands with the security forces for the stability of our city,” the City administration said, and pledged to bring perpetrators to justice. AS

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