BILAL TUBE NEWS ENGLISH
“While the government claims that Meles will resume his duties soon, most people believe that the regime is just buying time for orderly succession.” Read more
You would be forgiven for thinking that the tense, dramatic African Union elections were the most exciting thing to happen in Addis Ababa this weekend – but you would be wrong. While the diplomats were squabbling about procedure and protocol, in another part of the capital an altogether more serious situation was developing, at least as far as hosts Ethiopia are concerned.
While reports are hard to confirm, participants claimed that somewhere between 500,000 and one million Muslims gathered in and around one of the city’s main mosques in a blatant show of defiance against the Christian-led government, while smaller marches took place in other cities across the country. If these numbers are true, then the government of Meles Zenawi – who is currently in Brussels receiving medical treatment, adding to the uncertainty – should be gravely concerned. To put them in perspective, the marches on Tahrir Square which precipitated the Egyptian Revolution were of a similar size; demonstrations of this scale have not been seen in Africa since.
Sunday was the third consecutive day of protests and mosque sit-ins, and already hundreds are reported arrested or injured by the government response, which has definitely included the liberal use of tear gas and – again according to participant claims – live rounds.
Ethiopia is a historically Christian country, one of the oldest Christian countries in the world. But Islam too has deep roots there; it was the first place that persecuted Muslims sought refuge, fleeing Mecca to the kingdom of Axum where the Prophet Muhammad had told them they would be safe. The Axumite king, recognising that his Christianity and the exiles’ Islam shared the same Abrahamic roots, welcomed them. “Go to your homes and live in peace. I shall never give you up to your enemies,” he said.
Ever since, there has been a Muslim community in Ethiopia, and the two religions have co-existed relatively peacefully; both the Christian majority and Muslim minority generally treated with similar disdain by whatever emperor or government was in power, even though Ethiopia’s leaders have always been Christian.
Meles Zenawi’s government, however, is having to contend with a new threat. According to official statistics, Muslims make up 34% of the population; Ethiopian Orthodox Christians 44%; and various Protestant groupings another 17%. But the Muslim population is growing so quickly that, even taking these numbers at face value, Muslims are projected to become the majority in Ethiopia by 2050.
But Ethiopia’s Muslims say these figures have been twisted, and that they are already the majority. This is part of the rhetoric which underpins the current protests, and it’s not the first time I have heard this claim. Three years ago, in Addis Ababa, a diplomat who asked to remain anonymous told me that the results of the 2007 census had been delayed for months as the government struggled to deal with what that census revealed: that, in fact, there were more Muslims than Christians in the country. This posed an existential threat to Zenawi’s government, eroding its traditional support base, and the numbers were fixed – or so the story goes.
A more recent spark for the unrest has been the government’s perceived meddling in religious affairs by encouraging and supporting one minority Muslim sect over the more mainstream others. Terrified of the potential emergence of Al Shabaab-style fundamentalist Islam, Zenawi’s administration has promoted one particular sect of Islam, the Al Ahbash, which opposes ultra-conservative ideology and rejects violence. This has included appointing Al Ahbash clerics to lead the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, despite the fact that the Al Ahbash are pretty far from mainstream Islam – in Ethiopia and anywhere else. “It (Al Ahbash) has the right to exist in Ethiopia, but it is unacceptable that the Council tries to impose it on all members of the Muslim community," Abubeker Ahmed, head of an independent Islamic arbitration committee, told Reuters.
All this takes place against the backdrop of a highly autocratic state. Meles Zenawi would describe it as a benevolent autocracy, but human rights watchdogs would beg to differ. “Ethiopian authorities continued to severely restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Hundreds of Ethiopians in 2011 were arbitrarily arrested and detained and remain at risk of torture and ill-treatment,” wrote Human Rights Watch in their World Report 2012.
Restrictions on journalists are particularly tight, making it very difficult to gauge accurately what’s going on in the country. Nonetheless, it’s a story that needs to be covered; it’s clear that the tinderbox of religious divisions, strong-arm responses from the state, historical inequalities and modern demographic shifts has the potential to turn ugly. A media source in Addis Ababa told the Daily Maverick that tensions were so high that the smallest spark could cause a conflagration. And with Zenawi out of action in Brussels, who is around to put out the fire? DM
Brothers and sisters, I have been detained by traffic police Around 6:00 o'clock till 6:40 on the main bole road. They told Me that an arrest warrant had been issued to arrest me but the authority that has issued the warrant was not known. So they have released me as it was a vague case. Rest assured that our peaceful struggle will not be hindered in any case and the committee is ready to pay any sacrifice to stand by the legitimate request of the Ethiopian muslims. Abuber Ahmed አሰላሙ አለይኩም ወ ወ ዛሬ ከቀኑ 6:00 ሰአት እስከ 6:40 አካባቢ ቦሌ መንገድ ላይ በበላይ አካል ትእዛዝ በፖሊስ ተይዜ ፖሊስ ጣቢያ ቀርቤ የነበረ ቢሆንም ትእዛዙን ማን እንዳስተላለፈ ስላልታወቀ ወዲያው ተለቅቄአለሁ:: እኛ የኮሚቴው አባላት ህጋዊውን የኢትዩጵያዊያን ሙስሊሞች ጥያቄ ከዳር ለማድረስ ማንኛውንም መስዋእትነት ለመክፈል ዝግጁ መሆናችንን ከወዲሁ ለማረጋገጥ እንወዳለን:: ህዝበ ሙስሊሙም በተመሣሣይ ክስተቶች ባለመደናገጥ ህጋዊ መብቱን ለማስከበር ከበፊቱ በበለጠ ቆርጦ እንዲነሣ ለማሣሠብ እንወዳለን:: አቡበክር አህመድ Read more
A new law passed in Ethiopia has banned Voice Over Internet Protocol services such as Skype, Al Jazeera reports. Use of such services is punishable by large fines and up to 15 years in prison. The law was passed with little fanfare on May 24 but has only just become noticed by international media.
The government-owned Ethio Telecom has a monopoly on telecommunications but the country is filled with cybercafes where people can make low-cost phone calls over the Internet. Ethiopians complain that Ethio Telecom's international calling rates are unaffordable and Internet calls are their only option. This move blocks such competition.
Another probable reason for the move is to quash internal dissent. Several ethnic groups such as the Oromo and Somalis have armed independence groups inside Ethiopia. These groups get support from abroad and so the government may be trying to cut their lines of communication and funding.
Use of the Tor Project online anonymity provider has also been banned.
Having spent several months in Ethiopia in 2010 and 2011, and being in regular contact with people in the country since, I can attest to the difficulty in using the Internet there. Service is slow, and sometimes gets cut off entirely when there's a skirmish with one of the rebel groups or a meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. These cutoffs are invariably called "equipment malfunctions."
Emails from abroad often don't make it to people in Ethiopia. Those with business licenses always seem to get their email, but private citizens often don't. Ethiopians have told me this is because of government security fears. Many people use Facebook for email because the government can't block direct messages on the site. I myself have resorted to using Facebook for most of my communication with Ethiopian friends and colleagues.
And in case you're wondering, our emails have nothing that could possibly be construed as a security risk. Emails about archaeology, historic preservation and simple hellos have gone missing. This is a shame because Ethiopia has a growing educated class that has a lot to say and is thirsty for contact and information from the outside world. Opening up the lines of communications could very well bring on an Ethiopian renaissance from which we'd all benefit.
Ethiopia's government bills itself as a bastion of democratic stability in an unstable region and as an ally in the War on Terror, but laws such as this show that the current regime is anything but democratic. Read more
በደቡብ አፍሪካ ፕሪቶሪያ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የምርምር ስራዋን በማከናወን የምትገኘው ዘቢብ ዩኑስ በበላይነት የምትመራው ቡድን በካርቦን ነፃ ቴክኖሎጂ ላይ ባደረገው ጥናት ያቀረበው አዲስ ግኝት ተቀባይነት አገኘ፡፡ ፕሪቶሪያ የሚገኘው ቨርቲካል ኒውስ ጋዜጣና ናኖ ቴክኖሎጂ የተባለው የምርመራ መጽሄት እንደዘገቡት በኢትዮጲያዊቷ መሪነት የተገኘው ግኝት “ሴራሚክ ሜታል” በመባል የሚጠሩ ንጥረ ነገሮች የፀሀይን ብርሃን የመቀበል ብቃትና አቅም የላቀ መሆኑን ያረጋግጣል ፡፡ የላቀ ቴክኖሎጂ በመፍጠር ረገድም ከፍተኛ አስተዋፅኦ ይኖረዋል የተባለው ግኝት በተለያዩ የደቡብ አፍሪካ ምርምር ጆርናሎች ላይ ታትሟል፡፡ ከግኝቱ ጋር በተያያዘ በዚህ ወር መጨረሻ በጀርመን አገር በሚካሄደው አለም አቀፍ ሳይንሳዊ ስብሰባ ላይ ለመሳተፍ እንደተዘጋጀች ተፅፏል፡፡ ስብሰባው ለ62ኛ ጊዜ የሚካሄድ ሲሆን ምርጥ ወጣት ተመራማሪዎች በማገናኘት ዕውቀት እንዲለዋወጡ የማድረግ ዓላማ አለው፡፡ ዘቢብ ዩኑስ በትግራይ ክልል በአዲግራት ከተማ ተወልዳ ትምህርቷን እዛው ተከታትላ የመጀመሪያ ድግሪዋን በሒሳብ በጅማ ዩኒቨርሲቲ በ1997 ማግኘቷን ለማወቅ ተችሏል፡፡ Read more
WASHINGTON DC,6 Rajab/27 May Source (IINA)-The First Hijrah Ethiopian-American Muslim community in the Washington metropolitan area is gravely concerned about the Ethiopian government’s forceful imposition of a religious sect which violates the constitutional rights of its citizens freedom of worship. According to Al-Jazeera Arabic, ESAT broadcast, and many other local Ethiopian news outlets, the Ethiopian government has admitted to the killing of five Muslim citizens, among whom was a six year old child. Immediately after the killings, hundreds of Muslims were rounded and sent to jail outside of the Assasa town in the Oromia region. The mass arrests continued as authorities went house to house rounding up women and sending them to prisons far away from their home towns. According to locals, there have been an estimate of 247 individuals arrested with the majority being citizens between the ages of 9 and 19 years old. Medias such as Al-Jazeera and ESAT have also been covering the peaceful protest of the hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian Muslims. For the last three months, they have been protesting throughout the country, demanding an end to the government’s meddling in their religious affairs. The protesters have remained peaceful although the government has completely disregarded their constitutional rights by forcefully imposing the “Ahbash” sect on the Muslim population. Therefore, the Ethiopian-American Muslims of the Washington metropolitan area announces its plan to stage a mass protest on May 31st, 2012. The protest is a show of support to the peaceful struggle of the Muslims in Ethiopia as well as a condemnation of the violent government repression against them. Among the invited speakers are Muslim and Orthodox Christian leaders as well as different community representatives. Read more
Gruesome video Saturday showed rows of dead Syrian children lying in a mosque in bloody shorts and T-shirts with gaping head wounds, haunting images of what activists called one of the deadliest regime attacks yet in Syria's 14-month-old uprising. The shelling attack on Houla, a group of villages northwest of the central city of Homs, killed more than 90 people, including at least 32 children under the age of 10, the head of the U.N. observer team in Syria said. The attacks sparked outrage from U.S. and other international leaders, and large protests in the suburbs of Syria's capital of Damascus and its largest city, Aleppo. It also renewed fears of the relevance of a month-old international peace plan that has not stopped almost daily violence. The U.N. denounced the attacks in a statement that appeared to hold President Bashar Assad's regime responsible, and the White House called the violence acts of "unspeakable and inhuman brutality." "This appalling and brutal crime involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force is a flagrant violation of international law and of the commitments of the Syrian government to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centers and violence in all its forms," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and international envoy Kofi Annan. "Those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held to account." More than a dozen amateur videos posted online Saturday gave glimpses of the carnage, showing lines of bodies laid out in simple rooms, many with bloody faces, torsos and limbs. In some places, residents put chunks of ice on the bodies to preserve them until burial. One two-minute video shows at least a dozen children lined up shoulder to shoulder on a checkered blanket on what appears to be the floor of a mosque. Blood trickled from one girl's mouth. One boy, appearing to be no more than 8, had his jaw blown off. The video shows flowered blankets and rugs covering several rows of other bodies. Another video posted Saturday showed a mass grave, four bodies wide and dozens of meters (yards) long. Activists from Houla said Saturday that regime forces peppered the area with mortars after large demonstrations against the regime on Friday. That evening, they said, pro-regime fighters known as shabiha stormed the villages, gunning down men in the streets and stabbing women and children in their homes. A local activist reached via Skype said regime forces fired shells at Houla, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Homs. The shabiha entered the villages, raiding homes and shooting at civilians, Abu Yazan said. More than 100 people were killed, more than 40 of them children and most of them in the village of Taldaw, he said. Many had stab wounds, another activist said. "They killed entire families, from parents on down to children, but they focused on the children," Yazan said. The Syrian government blamed the killings on "armed terrorist groups" – a term it often uses for the opposition – but provided no details or death toll. But like U.N. officials, the White House issued a statement directed at the regime. The U.S. is "horrified" by the Houla attacks, National Security Council spokeswoman Erin Pelton said in a statement. "These acts serve as a vile testament to an illegitimate regime that responds to peaceful political protest with unspeakable and inhuman brutality." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," demanding that "those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account." "The United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end," Clinton said in statement. U.N. observers, among more than 250 who were dispatched in recent weeks to salvage the cease-fire plan, found spent artillery tank shells at the site Saturday, and U.N. officials confirmed the shells were fired at residential neighborhoods. The head of the team, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, called the attack a "brutal tragedy." The bloodshed is yet another blow to the international peace plan brokered by Annan and cast a pall over his coming visit to check on the plan's progress. The cease-fire between forces loyal to the regime of Assad and rebels seeking to topple it was supposed to start on April 12 but has never really taken hold, with new killings every day. The U.N. put the death toll weeks ago at more than 9,000. Hundreds have been killed since. The grisly images were condemned by anti-regime groups and political leaders around the world. "With these new crimes, this murderous regime pushes Syria further into horror and threatens regional stability," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement Saturday. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released an unusually harsh statement, saying Arab nations and the international community were "partners" in the killing "because of their silence about the massacres that the Syrian regime has committed." The Houla villages are Sunni Muslim. The forces came from an arc of nearby villages populated by Alawites, members of the offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Assad belongs, the activists said. The activists said the Houla killings appeared to be sectarian between the two groups, raising fears that Syria's uprising, which started in March 2011 with protests calling for political reform, is edging closer to the type of war that tore apart Syria's eastern neighbor, Iraq. "I don't like to talk about sectarianism, but it was clear that this was sectarian hatred," said activist Abu Walid. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 96 people were killed, 26 of them children and four of them army defectors. The group's head, Rami Abdul-Rahman, who relies on activists inside Syria, said all were killed in shelling, but that no forces entered Houla. Syrian state TV condemned the opposition groups for the "massacre" in a statement Saturday. "The armed groups are escalating their massacres against the Syrian people only days before international envoy Kofi Annan's visit in a bid to defeat his plan and a political solution to the crisis and with the aim of exploiting the blood of Syrians in the media bazar," it said. The videos could not be independently verified. The Syrian government bars most media from operating inside the country. The harsh condemnation from anti-regime groups reflects their growing frustration with international reluctance to intervene in Syria's conflict. World powers have fallen in behind the U.N. plan. The U.S. and European nations say they will not intervene militarily, and while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Libya have said they will arm Syria's rebels, no country is known to be doing so. A spokeswoman for the opposition Syrian National Council called on the U.N. Security Council "to examine the situation in Houla and to determine the responsibility of the United Nations in the face of such mass killings, expulsions and forced migration from entire neighborhoods." Also Saturday, the story of 11 Lebanese Shiites who were reported kidnapped in Syria this week took another strange turn. Lebanese officials first said their expected arrival on a plane from Turkey to Lebanon late Friday was delayed for "logistical reasons." On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Ministry denied the men were in Turkey – raising new questions about their fate. Lebanese and Syrian officials blamed Syrian rebels for Tuesday's kidnapping. No group has claimed responsibility. ___ Associated Press writers Elaine Ganley in Paris, Zeina Karam in Beirut, Anne Gearan in Washington, Frank Jordans in Geneva and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed reporting. to watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4ZZnjNSp8&feature=youtu.be Read more
VOA Correspondent in Ethiopia Released From Custody, Charges Dropped Posted Saturday, May 26th, 2012 at 10:45 am A VOA correspondent and his translator are safe at home with their families Saturday after being detained overnight by Ethiopian police on a charge of “illegal reporting.” Veteran correspondent Peter Heinlein and translator Simegineh Yekoye were arrested Friday as they were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Heinlein told VOA editors Saturday he was questioned at length about the purposes of his reporting. “We were interrogated by a police officer who told us that we had engaged in illegal reporting. They say that this is a problem area that we had gone into, and that reporters had no business going in there. We had a lengthy interrogation and gave a long statement in which he grilled us quite extensively about reporting, and about why, how we had gone to this mosque and what our motives were.” Heinlein said he and Simegineh were released and all charges were dropped after an official from the U.S. Embassy's consular section appeared at the prison Saturday morning. He said computer and recording equipment that were confiscated upon his arrest were returned and that he and Simegineh are in good health. Voice of America issued a statement from its headquarters in Washington saying it is relieved by Heinlein's release. It said Heinlein is “a professional and highly respected journalist whose only aim is to provide accurate and balanced coverage of events in Ethiopia. We are concerned about a pattern of harassment of journalists like Mr. Heinlein, and urge the government to allow them to perform their duties without fear of interference.” Heinlein said the arrest appeared to be connected to his reporting on a dispute between Ethiopia's Muslim minority and the government over the leadership of the nation's Muslim community. He said he and Simegineh appeared to have inadvertently crossed police lines aimed at keeping reporters away from a meeting after Friday prayers at the mosque where the dispute was being discussed. He said police stopped his car as he and the translator were leaving the mosque, and later took the two of them to a local police station. From there, they were transferred to the city's main police station for questioning. He said Simegineh had been permitted to return home overnight because there was not a suitable place to keep her in the prison and ordered to return Saturday morning. Heinlein, an east Africa correspondent based in Addis Ababa, has worked for VOA since 1988. Read more
Published: 27 April, 2012, 15:18 A court in Egypt has given one of the most famous comic actors in the Arab world, Adel Imam, a jail sentence for insulting Islam. The actor is due to appeal the decision. "Adel Imam will appeal to annul the verdict, which was given on the wrong legal basis," Imam’s lawyer Sawat Hussein says. "My client's films were certified, not censored, by surveillance authorities before their release to the public." The court first convicted the actor on February 2 giving him a suspended jail term and a fine of about $170. The sentence was upheld on Tuesday. Imam’s case caused massive public resonance. Hundreds of people, including actors and filmmakers gathered in front of the court building on Tuesday to support Imam, The Vancouver Sun reports. Protesters fear that if Imam’s appeal is not accepted, that might prompt future troubles for other creative people of Egypt now that the power of Islamists is growing after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. Creative community believes that Imam’s case might become an alarming sign of the upcoming limitations to freedom of expression in the country. The case against the famous comic was brought by a lawyer closely related to the conservative Islamists of Egypt – the Salafis (who won about a quarter of the seats in recent parliamentary elections). The lawyer accused Imam of insulting Islamic symbols. Filmmakers, actors and artists are often brought to court for disrespecting religious values in Egypt. They seldom resulted in convictions. However since Mubarak’s ousting the number of convictions has been growing, according to Human Rights Watch. Adel Imam has been in the film business and on stage as a comic actor for 40 years, known for frequently bantering authorities and officials. Read more
A big religious feeling deserves a big house of worship. Algeria is set to get its own mega-mosque with the tallest minaret in the world. Almost as tall as the Eiffel Tower, the $1.3-billion mosque will stand on 20 hectares of land and will be capable of hosting 120,000 worshippers within its prayer room. Its minaret will soar 270 meters high. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he wanted to “leave his mark" and enter history with this epic building. The construction is currently underway in the city of Algiers, as the foundations began to be laid on Sunday. The building is due to be completed in 2015. China State Construction Engineering Corporation will build the mega-mosque, Al Arabiya reports. It will also feature a library containing one million books and manuscripts, a museum and a research center. The new mosque will be one of the world’s largest. Only those in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Medina, one in Iran’s Mashhad and one in Bhopal, India are capable of welcoming more worshippers. One of Europe’s biggest mosques is situated in Grozny, Russia’s Chechen Republic. The world’s highest mosque resides on the 158th floor of the tallest manmade structure – the 830-meter Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The world’s tallest mosque is currently the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Its minaret is 210 meters tall. The Prophet's Mosque in the city of Medina is 105 meters high. Read more