Ethiopian attack. Was it just the ‘the work of thieves?’ If so, why did they only attack places of Christian worship and only kill Christians?”
In recent days, the Ethiopian city of Jijiga and the whole eastern region of the country were affronted by violent attacks that were aimed at local Christians.
“On Saturday, the 4th of August, I consecrated a local chapel in Jijiga about five kilometres from the city centre. About three hundred Catholics participated the Mass; sixty of them came from Dire Dawa and Harar, ” explained Fr Angelo Pagano, the apostolic vicar of Harar. “After the Mass, we held a procession with the Eucharist around the chapel but were blocked by a fire which began in a nearby Orthodox church. Young men armed with poles started to run towards us and began hurling stones at us. “
“I drew near with an old man from the village to see what was happening. Together we talked to some young people who advised us to flee, which we did. On our return, we found one priest dead and another one injured. We took the injured one with us.
We were trapped for six hours even though we had called the police”, said Fr Pagano.
“We tried to free our people in cars, but one of them was ambushed. Fortunately, all passengers could escape. A soldier helped us get to Jijiga where we passed the night in peace.
The following day we learnt that eight Orthodox churches were burnt in our diocese of Harar (266.000 km2). A lot of priests, deacons and faithful died in the attacks.”
“We were comparatively ‘lucky’ because the real victims of the attacks were our Orthodox brothers and sisters,” said Fr Pagano and later added: “We felt God’s closeness; he was the only one who helped us.” He went on to explain that “we had nothing to give the five hundred people, who escaped with us to eat. Thanks to five priests from our deanery, and some orthodox priests, we were able to feed the people that were with us.” Fr Pagano then told us that on “the day after the attack, we realised that we had lost our new chapel. It was not burnt down, because it was built of bricks, but the vandals took everything away, everything: statues, pictures, even the crucifix.”
Planned and reiterated attacks
On the following Monday, the president of the Somali region, Abdi Illey, convoked the local religious leaders.
“He said, he wanted peace and asked us not to start religious debates, because he believed our attackers were only thieves and did not have religious intentions,” narrated Fr Angelo.
“I interjected stating that in my opinion, they were not simple thieves, but mercenaries who are taking part in a religious war and that is why they only attacked churches and killed Christians.
I added that he should talk about peace with the Muslim leaders, asking them to promote peace among their own members.”
Fr. Pagano stated: “I have been in this region for two years, and I realised that there had been similar incidents like this in the past, concretely in September of 2016, October of 2017 and in August of 2018. I started to believe that these attacks were planned, and were aimed every year at yet another zone of the Diocese in order to weaken our Church.” The Apostolic Vicar went on to say that: “We trust the new president of our Government who is always present when we are in need. He is working hard to make peace in our country yet there are still a lot of Christians who have to leave their homes and look for other places to live in peace because we still live in fear.”
Source: Religión en Libertad