Ethiopia: As Muslim protest resumes, the new PM renews threats

September 25, 2012 (Gulele Post) – After suspending their protest for over a month due to the deaths of Meles Zenawi and the patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Muslims resumed their 10 months long nonviolent protest this Friday, September 21, 2012. Large crowds of protesters gathered and renewed their demands to be allowed to elect their leaders in their mosques and for the government to stop forced indoctrination into Al-habesh, and also called for release of the thousands of prisoners – members of the arbitration committee – that were arrested as part of the government’s crackdown to suppress the movement.

In his acceptance speech on the same day, new prime minister Hailamariam Desalegn repeated his predecessor’s threat against the Muslim community. He warned that he will not tolerate ‘those who want to advance political agenda behind the cover of religion’, which is a characterization Meles gave, during his last speech at parliament, to protesters who rose up against the government attempt to impose an alien politico-religious doctrine imported from Lebanon. Hailemariam seems to not realize that threats, intimidation and assault did not work against this movement even under his ‘tough’ predecessor. So far, every attack on the protesters has backfired, as evidenced from the exponential increase in the size of the protests and participating locations.

This movement has shown not just the resilience and discipline but also incredible concern for national affairs. Upon the death of the patriarch they suspended the protest out of respect for the Orthodox faithful. When the prime minister died, they extended the suspension respecting the national mourning declared by the government. Instead of opportunistically taking advantage of the regime’s vulnerability created by the power vacuum, the organizers even decided to further prolong the suspension until the succession process is complete.

–Full Report Gulele Post