Amhara and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, September 19, 2019
Protests in several cities in Ethiopia took place against the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church burnings and attacks. Here, protesters gather in Gondar, Ethiopia, on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Tewodrose Tirfe/Amhara Association of America
Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Christians took to the streets following Liturgy on Sunday, mainly in the Amhara region and in parts of Addis Ababa, protesting a year-long string of attacks on both Ethiopian Tewahedo and Protestant churches.
The protestors were demanding an end to what they consider a “planned and orchestrated attack” on the Ethiopian Tewahedo church, according to the Africa Report.
The activists also denounced the Ethiopian government for doing nothing while churches were being attacked by armed groups throughout the country, reports Ezega News.
The concerned citizens came out on Sunday despite an earlier announcement from the organizing committee of the Tewahedo church saying the demonstration had been postponed. The rallies were also held without governmental permission.
“The government has turned a blind eyes and deaf ears to repeated attacks on our churches, some of which were burnt down and their properties looted and priests slaughtered by armed groups,” the demonstrators said.
Demonstrators have called on the government to establish a legal framework to safeguard the Tewahedo Church, against the background of more than 30 churches being burnt down since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018, mainly in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali regional state.
A member of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church sits in front of the destroyed Doya St. Michael Church, Southern region, Sidama district, July 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Tewodrose Tirfe/Amahara Association of America
The attacks have taken an increasingly ethno-nationalist form, pitting the largely Christian population (60%) against the Muslim population (35%), and often leave clergy and laity dead or injured.
On February 9, 10 churches of various denominations were attacked in southern Ethiopia after fake reports of attacks against a mosque. The next day, two mosques were attacked after unconfirmed reports that a Muslim wedding had desecrated images of the Theotokos.
Similar demonstrations are expected to take place in coming weeks in other cities in Ethiopia and in diaspora communities.