by Nasrudin Ousman
I have a few words to say to those guys who flooded Ato Tedla Asfaw’s article, titled “Ethiopian Muslims Struggle for Religious Freedom is Exemplary” with arrogant, ignorant as well as vulgar remarks that is typical of the TPLF/EPRDF cadres at home and in the Diaspora. The article is posted on Nazret.com, which used to be blocked by the EPRDF regime, but now it seems the blockade is lifted. My note is targeted at those TPLF/EPRDF Cadres whose hate-speech, vulgar and ignorant comments flooded Tedla’s article.
Most of the negative comments unleashed against the writer, Ato Tedla Asfaw, DO NOT REALLY DESERVE a rebuttal. These so-called comments are undoubtedly from the cadres and/or blind sympathizers of the TPLF/EPRDF regime. What one can deduce from these shallow comments is a futile attempt to save the face of the brutal TPLF/EPRDF regime. From comments such as the one by the person who admitted to be a “typical failed Diaspora,” one can see the frontiers of stupidity and blind hatred. What this “typically failed Diaspora” is trying to do is provoke Ethiopian Muslims so as to open a new frontier of Muslim-Christian conflict in Ethiopia. This is the dirtiest of all political gimmicks that, with the exception of the evil-minded EPRDF regime, no other Ethiopian ruler in the past has ever attempted to employ. On the other hand, the remarks this “typically failed Diaspora” made about the religion of Islam shows the extent of ignorance and sheer stupidity that “Mr./Ms failed Diaspora” has chosen to live with. Well, that is his/her choice, and hence we don’t want to interfere in one’s choice.
Those of you who dare speak about the prevalence of religious freedom in Ethiopia, your remarks are ridiculously charming. Had it not been for your poor English, we shouldn’t have believed you are Ethiopians. You simply don’t sound Ethiopian.
For those who accuse Ethiopian Muslims of importing what they erroneously call Wahabism, I would like to tell them that what they call Wahhabis have been in Ethiopia long before TPLF/EPRDF came to power. There is nothing Ethiopian Muslims have imported the last few years. Actually, it is the EPRDF regime that has imported this contemporary political lingo for cheap political gain. …Those vulgar TPLF/EPRDF cadres incessantly accuse adherents of the so-called Wahhabiyya with every contemporary political jargon that comes into their mind. They call them “extremists”, “jihadists”, “terrorists”, “militants”, “advocates of political Islam” and so on. It seems as if the TPLF/EPRDF cadres have heard these jargons since the last two years. We can’t blame the ordinary cadres, for their job is to simply echo what their bosses uttered. But we can’t help asking: How could these so-called “Wahhabis” who have been around for more than six decades all of a sudden became a threat to their own country?! … The truth is, it is this blind accusation and gross labeling that must be imported. But it is not imported alone.
There is another thing that is recently imported to Ethiopia, upon the invitation of the TPLF/EPRDF regime, and that is the Lebanese-born Ahbash sect. And the importer (EPRDF) shamelessly set out to impose the teachings of this sect, which is branded by a great number of Muslim scholars around the world as heretic.
The Peaceful Protest Movement
The Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, otherwise known as Majlis, is an institution that is supposed to serve the Ethiopian Muslim community regardless of the madhab (school of jurisprudence) one adheres to. This institution has been under the control of the ruling EPRDF since 1995. Now, in 2011 the EPRDF regime formally invited Ahbash teachers from Lebanon, but in order to camouflage its unconstitutional interference in religion, wanted to use the Majlis, to play an institutional role in the effort to impose this imported sect on Ethiopian Muslims. That is where our religious freedom is boldly violated. In fact what is violated is also the country’s supreme law – the constitution. That is the very reason why we, Ethiopian Muslims, have been peacefully protesting since the last two years. Our peaceful protest movement is against this unconstitutional alliance between the government and the Majlis. And by the Grace of Allah, we shall continue our peaceful movements until our demands are squarely addressed. The three key demands we presented to the government through our elected representatives are: (1) Let the unelected leadership of the Majlis be removed and let us elect our leaders. (2) Let the government stop interfering in religious affairs and try to forcefully impose the teachings of Ahbash; and (3) let the Awoliya Center be administered by a board elected from the Muslim Community.
So far the EPRDF regime has been so adamant to properly address these popular demands of the Ethiopian Muslim community. Using the media it fully controls, it has been unleashing a bizarre campaign of misinformation and misleading the people in the country as well as the international community, but to no avail. The Ethiopian Muslims peaceful struggle for religious freedom and the respect of the law has continued.
God Willing, no propaganda, no hate speech, no amount of torture, no bullet, no indiscriminate beatings [such as the one on the day of Eid al-Fitr], no mass incarceration of innocent Muslims, nothing would stop us, Ethiopian Muslims, from continuing our peaceful struggle for the full respect of our constitutionally “guaranteed” religious freedom.
The point that Mr. Tedla Asfaw raised here about our peaceful struggle for religious freedom is a miniscule part of our nationwide peaceful resistance. As long as our freedoms and rights as Ethiopians have continued to be violated, we have no reason and no choice, but to wage a relentless peaceful struggle. Finally, it should be underscored that the Ethiopian Muslims’ peaceful struggle is an indigenous movement for the respect of religious freedom. It is not dictated by any foreign country or any other external force. It is ETHIOPIAN. We are Ethiopian Muslims, and we do not ask the approval or denial of anyone. Nor is our peaceful struggle associated with any particular sect, as the TPLF/EPRDF regime and its cadres at different levels would have us to believe.
by Nasrudin Ousman