Ethiopian Canadian Muslims living in Toronto, Canada would like to express our concern and worry by the recent news received from theGurage Region of Southern . Once again the Muslims of the Gurage Region and its surroundings are the victims of a cruel and savage act perpetrated against their place of worship in which Eight Mosques have been burnt down in a broad day light with all its sacred religious contents with no regard to the accepted norm of civility in which all religious sanctities are sacrosanct. This unspeakable crime against the peaceful Muslim citizens by a group of zealots who are bent in sowing the seeds of discord and hatred should be apprehended and face the full force of justice in order to maintain the peaceful coexistence that is critically need for Ethiopia to continue registering a meaningful development in all facets of life.
The government should call a spade a spade by singling out the perpetrators in order to bring an end to the perpetual act of targeting Muslims and their place of worship. We believe a timely and transparent investigation of such incidents and placing responsibilities on the shoulder of those who commit such crimes will send a clear and unequivocal message to those who contemplate a similar act in the future.
This is not the first time and our fear is that this might not be the last time for such crime to be committed against the peaceful Muslims and their place of worships. In the past we voiced our concern when the rights of Ethiopian Muslims were eroded. To mention some, we voiced our concern when our Holy Quran was desecrated and was used as a toilet paper by similar groups. However, our call for justice did not receive a satisfactory response and this has encouraged this group to continue its criminal activities unhindered. As a result of this crime, many Muslim residents of Canada of Ethiopian origin have felt very angry and concerned by this perpetual injustice committed against Ethiopian Muslims.
While the Community lauds the improved situation in the country compared to the previous regimes, however, such incidents continue to become a cause for instability that erodes the constitutional rights for all to practice their religion freely. The constitution of Ethiopia clearly states on its sub-Article 1 of Article 27
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include the freedom to hold or to adopt a religion. This right shall include the freedom to hold or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and the freedom, either individually or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
We call upon the Federal Government of Ethiopia to bring those responsible to justice and particularly the Southern Regional Administration which has a moral obligation to treat its citizens fairly. We demand from the Regional Administration of the South to do its level best to protect and safeguard these places of worships from any damage in the future as they are fully aware of the past incidents and its consequences. Therefore, we demand from the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Southern Regional Administration to take the following actions as soon as possible in order to defuse the tension that has been created and to uphold the constitutional rights of all Ethiopians and particularly the Muslims in the Gurage Region:
1. To condemn this brutal crime publicly and investigate the crime with full transparency and making its finding public.
2. To bring those criminals to justice and to investigate their relationship to the previous similar incidents.
3. To assist the Southern Ethiopian Muslims in their endeavors to rebuild their place worship.
We hope that the Southern Regional Authorities will heed to our demand and take concrete measures in responding to the above mentioned demands.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank those who played a constructive role in trying to calm the situation from serious confrontation and particularly the Muslim Scholars and the Muslim leaders of the Gurage Region.
CC: The Ethiopian Consulate of Canada in Toronto,
Office of the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia
Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Regional Administration
Badr Ethiopia, Washington DC
The Federal Ethiopia Islamic Affairs Supreme Council
The Southern Nations and Nationalities Islamic Affairs Supreme Council