Dec 4, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Amhara clashes mar Ethiopia’s tolerant image

Ethiopia’s image as a tolerant country was tarnished by two weeks of fighting between Christians and Muslims, which drew international condemnation and calls for calm.

The violence is the result of tensions that had been building for a number of years. It began on April 26 when Christians and Muslims clashed in the northern city of Gondar in the Amhara region at a funeral service held in an area contested by both faiths.

Read:< /strong> Ethiopian police and Muslims clash during Idd prayers in Addis Ababa

The violence claimed the lives of at least 21 people, with more than 150 injured, and quickly spread to other parts of the country , including Addis Ababa.

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Idd ul-Fitr prayers held in the capital last week turned chaotic as tens of thousands of Muslims marking the end of Ramadan marched with the Police clashed, who in turn used tear gas to disperse them.

It is not yet clear what caused the confrontation in Addis, but tensions in the country have been high since the Gondar incident.

Despite a long history of coexistence, in India s sporadic to fighting between Muslims and Christians the country is not new, according to Metta-Alem Sinishaw, a senior political analyst in Ethiopia.

Read:UN ca calls for independent inquiry into religious violence in Ethiopia

“The close partnership between religious clerics and ethno-nationalists poses a serious threat to national survival,” Metta-Alem told The EastAfrican.

“The nature of the crimes committed after the outbreak and the retaliatory attacks demonstrate the complexity and diversity of causes beyond the traditional religious disputes rooted in land use,” he said.

More religious Conflict, he said, could rise in Ethiopia over political interference. For example, in 2021, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed consolidated power through his Prosperity Party, which eliminated the coalition government dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The TPLF is now considered a terrorist group in Ethiopia.

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Read:Ethiopia Arrests Over 200 People Over Violence At A Funeral

Some of those who lost in this power shift may be exploiting religious tensions to further their political ends prosecuted, Mr Metta-Alem said.

The identities of the perpetrators of the recent violence remain unknown, but some government officials have pointed the finger at the TPLF or even al-Shabaab militants. The TPLF has denied involvement.

Others blamed the TPLF’s new ideological allies, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Up until last week, efforts by local religious leaders and state security forces had contributed to calming tension in the short term. However, experts advise business leaders to address other contributing factors such as lack of economic opportunity, poverty and high cost of living.

Ethiopia’s inflation rose to 34.7% in March, up from 33.6% in the previous month, officials said Data.

Last week, the Department of Commerce announced a 16 percent increase in gasoline prices, effective immediately.

Gasoline prices rose to 36.87 Birr per ($0.72) per liter as of March 31 .74 birr ($0.65) per liter.

“Given people’s frustration with rising living costs and multiple social inequalities, a large-scale conflict could erupt at any time,” said Sumur Tsehaye, a local political commentator based in Addis Ababa.

“The country is already vulnerable due to existing ethnic conflicts and social unrest caused by the war in Tigray. Any additional conflict can only worsen the country’s crisis,” said Mr. Sumur .