Ethiopia Muslims Face ‘Terrorism’ Charges
November 2, 2012
some of those 29 Muslims charged
Ethiopian government charged twenty-nine Muslims on Monday, October 29, with plotting acts of “terrorism,” in arrests made after major peaceful Muslim protests accused the government of interference in religious affairs.
The group is accused of “intending to advance a political, religious or ideological cause” by force, the court document, cited by Agence France Presse (AFP), said.
The court also accused them of “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of terrorist acts.”
The accused, total 29 Muslims, includes nine prominent Muslim leaders who were all arrested following protests staged by Muslims against the government last July.
Protests have rocked Ethiopia over the past weeks over government interference in the religious affairs of Ethiopian Muslims.
Ethiopian Muslims accuse the government of spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the umbrella Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (Majlis) to indoctrinate their community with the ideology of a sect called "Ahbash".
Protesters also accuse authorities of fixing elections for the leaders of the Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs, the community’s main representative body, after jailing Muslim leaders who would have participated in the vote.
To quell the protests, the Ethiopian government launched a major crackdown, arresting scores of Muslim protest leaders.
Last July, security forces raided the Awalia Mosque in Addis Ababa, arresting more than 70 Muslims on claims of planning protests.
Among those arrested were the chairman of the committee chosen to be representative of the Muslim community Abubakar Ahmed, spokesman Ahmedin Jebel, and other committee members.
The accused also included Habiba Mohammed, the wife of the former minister of civil service, who was charged with smuggling funds to support religious extremism.
Two local non-governmental organizations were also charged with "rendering support" to terrorism.
The courtroom in the Ethiopian capital was filled Monday with armed police officers alongside the 29 accused, who stood before a judge to receive the charges.
Dozens of family members and friends who could not fit inside the courtroom waited outside and cheered as the charged returned to prison on buses.
According to government 2007 census, Muslims make up about 34 percent of Ethiopia’s population.
Yet, other sources put Ethiopia Muslims at about 58% of the country’s population.