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Ethiopian Muslims Arrested, Beaten During Eid al-Fitr Protests

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Politics, Protest, Religion

An aggressive crackdown on protests against the country's mistreatment of Muslims ended in hundreds, including women and children, reportedly beaten, tear gassed and arrested [1] by police on Thursday 8 August, 2013, the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Ethiopian Muslims have been protesting online [2] and offline for over a year and a half against alleged government's interference in their religious affairs.

One of the issues they are opposed to is the election of the Islamic Council [3] that took place in October 2012, which they argue the government influenced the process in favor of government-friendly members. They also accuse the government of trying to promote a more liberal form of Islam known as al-Abhash.

Ethiopian Muslims protesting the Ethiopian Government.

Ethiopian Muslims protesting early this year during the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. One of the t-shirts reads, “Stop Abhashism in Ethiopia.” Photo source: the Awolia School Support Page Facebook Page

Muslim cyber-activists have been using Facebook pages such as DimtsachinYisema [4] [amh] (Let Our Voices Be Heard) and EthiopianMuslims [5] to coordinate and share information about the protests.

Last year, Ethiopian Christians supported their fellow citizens in online messages [6]of unity, which went viral in the Ethiopian digital space. Many Ethiopian Christians changed their Facebook status in July 2012 to announce their allegiance to Ethiopian Muslims in their quest for non-interference from the government.

Following the crackdown on Eid protests, Amnesty International released a statement calling on the Ethiopian government [7] to end repression against Muslims. The statement takes note of an incident last week related to the protests that reportedly ended in the deaths of an unconfirmed number of people in the town of Kofele in Oromia region.

Reports of police brutality and arrests after Eid prayers are trending on Twitter under the hashtags EidDemonstration [8] and EthioMuslims [9].

Mahlet (@faantish [10]) was sad for the treatment of peaceful Muslims:

@faantish [10] wrote that most of those who were beaten and arrested were women:

Human rights activist Soli (@Soliyee [18]) saw one female detainee with a new baby boy:

An online network of Oromos, Oromo Network (@OromoRT [20]), wondered how one can trust the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF):

StunningHabesha (@stunningHabesha [22]) shared photos showing the extent of police brutality:

The Africa desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (@africamedia_CPJ [27]) reported the alleged censoring of coverage of Eid prayer service:

Given the country's treatment of Muslims, @atnemac [32] wrote that it is as if being Muslim is an offense in Ethiopia:

Soli (@Soliyee [18]) and her friend Faantish (@faantish [10]) were lucky because of their non-Muslim dressing code:

Despite massive condemnation from Twitter users in Ethiopia and around the world, there were some who were supporting the crackdown.

EthioZagol (@EthioZagol [36]) considers the protest part of the spread of Islam extremism in Ethiopia:

Ethiopian human rights activist and writer Kiflu Hussain (@HussainKiflu [38]) responded to the “extremism” accusation by asking:

An Ethiopian student in Finland, Henok (@henoksheger [40]), asked Muslims to respect the law: