Religious Extremism in Ethiopia

Dagmawi's picture

Ethiopia is known for religious tolerance mainly between Christians and Muslims for several years. This case was even surprising that Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) used to favorite to the Muslims in order to portray their hatred and stigma to evangelicals. This happened for many years for the reason that EOC Christians have negatively thought that Evangelicals are antagonistic to their stand that Mary the mother of Jesus is their intercessor before God and all prayers have to be addressed to her or other accompanying saints. EOC Christians were fervently negative extremists on those of evangelicals not only on spiritual aspects but also social.

Recently, Muslims have proclaimed that they are overriding in number; which in turn they have used as a means to demand the Ethiopian government to be allowed for the “Sheria Governance”. The government has conducted a National census in response and has officially informed that Christians are still the dominant number in the country. Then, Muslim extremists have tried to attack a number of EOC Christians and churches. They tried to snatch microphones from the teaching/preaching priests and tried to declare “Allah Wakber!” inside the church. They tried to do this even in one of evangelical Churches. Their decision was to make Ethiopia an island of Muslims.

After this, things were dramatically changing. The lifelong friendship of EOC to Muslims has started to crack. The biggest shift has followed then that EOC Christians wanted to cooperate and favorite to Evangelicals. Now, the combat became between EOC and Muslims. Mean time, things EOC Christians do are getting to be indications of their opposition to Muslims rather than Evangelicals. They have become very alerted and active on each and every single religious activity than ever before. When Epiphany was celebrated in January 19/2009, they attended in a massive and innumerable quantity in order to show their load over the country. Even, the streets were full of slogans and Bible verses. The government of Ethiopia has given warning on the national Television for those who are stirring some kind of clash. Things are getting to be very pressurized on both sides. Muslims on the other side are getting ready for some kind of war. Yet, Evangelical Christians seems to become quiescent on the situation. What do you think has to be the very sound Biblical, Theological and Apologetic response of evangelical Christians at this time?

Please email me your answers via or post your reply here.

Thank you so much!

Dagmawi Wube

Temesgen Shibru's picture

RE: religious extremism in Ethiopia

Dear Dagmawi,

It is nice of you to tackle such a huge topic. I am in no way giving you adequate answer or solution for the challenge you put on the table. Rather my comment will be directed towards your article. Perhaps when we come to the same page regarding the problem, we will be able to discuss the solution together.

First I see gaps in your story. The first paragraph of your article deals with presenting the tolerance between Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and Muslims in Ethiopia. You also seem to suggest that Ethiopian Orthodox Church believers are so negative toward the Evangelicals. My question is what is your source for this huge assertion? If it is your personal assessment from your personal experience, then others can also come up with the opposite assessment. Then it will be your word against them.

The second paragraph that deals with Muslim aggression needs to be more clarified. Have they asked the government for Sharia law to be imposed over the entire country? And was the national census conducted in response to the Muslims demand? If so, it would be great to come up with the evidence. It would also be so nice if you mentioned where and when the snatching of the microphone took place.

Finally, when few members from one religious group in one specific area clash with the other group, we should be cautious from labeling it as religious extremism or religious war.

Having said all these, now let me try to forward some suggestions assuming that your assessment is correct. First, as a bible believers evangelicals are not only called to be tolerant but to be loving even toward their enemies who persecute them. There is always a tendency to be afraid or become suspicious of "the other". To prove this, we should just go to the playing ground and see how children treat the new guy that come to the playing ground. The issue is people naturally tend to be antagonistic toward "the other". But living in diverse society like Ethiopia, growing out of this is demanded. Therefore, people like you and me should teach believers to begin to appreciate the difference and respect those who are different from us.

Secondly, religious war is less likely and far less expected to happen in Ethiopia if it is not politically instigated. The people of Ethiopia for most part have learned to live together for centuries. But if some one want to earn some political gain and try to use religious war as a means, then we should pray against it. And also do all in our power to stand against it. It is 21st Century. The other world is developed and living a blessed life. Therefore, it is an outdated life style to fight on religious matters in the country that still some are going hungry.
And for evangelicals, I don't think there is such a thing as a religious war. If they are persecuted because of their faith they should welcome it whole heartily with all courage. The should go through the fire trusting their lives to the righteous God who is in his throne. In addition they can also exhaust the justice system of the land as it is God's way of administering justice.

Finally, and most importantly let us pray that this will not happen in our country not now not ever. May God bless Ethiopia!