CAIRO: A group of Muslim activists from Ethiopia lashed out at the international coverage of protests in the country that have seen police violence meted out against Muslims in the East African nation.
In an email to Bikyamasr.com, the activists, who said they were “concerned Muslim Ethiopians,” argued that the current protests are not about a specific Islam being pushed, but the overall need for Ethiopia to maintain freedom of religion.
“We are a group of university students and we are frustrated with much of the coverage that has been existing in the international media concerning the protests that have been taking place in our country,” the email began.
“As Muslims living in Ethiopia we would like the world to know that we are not against Christians, but are against the government’s efforts to crackdown on our community and attempt to tell us which version of Islam we should be following.
“The police have attacked and even killed Muslims at mosques for not complying with the government on our faith. This is unacceptable and we would like to bring the international attention to our situation and warn against labeling us Muslims as radical. We are not. We are simply citizens who want to practice our faith as we want,” the statement continued.
Internationally, reports have suggested that “radical Islam” is battling the government in a push toward violence. The university students say this is simply not true and a “fear tactic against Islam.”
Muslims in Ethiopia are reporting massive violence meted out against them by the country’s security forces. Activists have reported police attacked a series of mosque sit-ins around Addis Ababa over the past month, with a number of injuries being reported.
The activists have used Facebook and Twitter as the main means of communicating. They have distributed photos and stories of police brutality in what has become a tense situation in the predominantly Christian country of 80 million people.
The crackdown on Muslims in the country come as the government fears extremism is on the rise, being imported into the country from neighboring Somalia in the Horn of Africa.
Activists say this is not the case and they are protesting to demand their right to freedom of religion.
“We just want our freedom and to get the government to let us have it,” the student’s statement added.