Religious communities impacted by rising tensions in Ethiopia
Tensions do not seem to be easing in Ethiopia. Appointed in April of 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised to bring reform and peace to Ethiopia. Just a year and a half later he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in a groundbreaking peace deal between Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea, which ended a twenty-year conflict and helped to set the stage for more amicable relations going forward.
Mr Ahmed has also taken a public stance against the oppressive techniques of his predecessors. Soon after taking office he freed journalists and members of the political opposition and promised to reopen the country to outside human rights observers.
However, much has still to be done to advance human rights and religious freedom in Ethiopia and some of Mr Ahmed’s more recent actions have raised speculation that his commitment to human rights may not be as deep as he once promised.
Regarding religious freedom, the widespread violence around the country included the burning of places of worship, just one example of how religion finds itself in the crossfire. Numerous churches have been burned down by mobs, and some Christians have been accused of heresy.
In other incidents, mobs have burned down mosques, further exacerbating the religious tensions at play and highlighting the need to protect vulnerable faith communities of all kinds.