By Risala International
Ethiopia is home to millions of Muslims. Islam thrived in Ethiopia long before it took root elsewhere in the world, including its cradle–the Arabian Peninsula.
Despite their considerable size and contribution to society, Muslims faced marginalization and oppression in Ethiopia. The current Ethiopian government promised to promote religious freedom and equality. In fact, the Ethiopian constitution mandates the government to guarantee religious freedom and specifically forbids interference in religious affairs.
In violation of the letter and spirit of its own laws, the Ethiopian government imported a foreign religious sect from Lebanon and used public resources to prop it up. When the Muslim community petitioned the government to respect the law and desist from directly delving in religious affairs, it unleashed a wave of repression without any parallels. For the last two years Ethiopian Muslims have been waging peaceful sit-ins throughout the country to find redress for its grievances. Rather than heeding the peaceful calls of its subjects, the regime detained the protest’s leaders along with thousands of followers. Thousands were beaten mercilessly. Scores have been killed while exercising their constitutionally-sanctioned rights.
These leaders are being held in detention without any legal basis.
We are marching here today at the great capitol of the wonderful state of Minnesota asking for the solidarity of our government in pressing the Ethiopian government to release these prisoners of conscience. We are appealing to our fellow Americans to raise their voices for religious freedom in Ethiopia, a country that is supposed to be Washington’s strong ally. Our government should not condone those who violate American fundamental values.
We march for religious freedom. We march for supremacy of the rule of law rather than the rule of the gun in Ethiopia. We call for an end to repression of freedom in Ethiopia.