By Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Ethiopia’s Information Minister has stated that the government was committed to fighting political activities that were being held under the pretext of religion.
Dr. Negeri Lencho, tasked other stakeholders in the country to thus join hands with the government in the fight against religious extremists who try hard to disrupt the peace of the country and ruin the respect for rights as enshrined in the constitution.
He was addressing a group of government officials at the end of a three-day training on ways of tackling religious extremism on April 30, 2017. ‘‘Any action which is against the constitution is unacceptable,’‘ he is quoted to have said.
Any action which is against the constitution is unacceptable.
He also pledged that the government was ready to support the efforts of the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) to combat extremism. The country is currently under an extended state-of-emergency that was first imposed in October 2016.
The measure was to help quell spreading anti-government protests in the Oromo and Amhara regions of the country. A recent government report said 669 people dies in the protests. Addis Ababa has however rejected an independent probe by the United Nations and the European Union.
In January this year, a federal High Court in the capital Addis Ababa handed down sentences to 20 Muslims. According to the Addis Standard news portal, the convicted persons were found guilty of terrorism-related charges and also inciting violence.
They were charged with contravening several articles of the country’s anti-terrorism proclamation and the Penal Code. Their trial has been running since December 2014. Two journalists were among the 20.
The portal further reported that Muslims in the Horn of Africa nation have since 2011 been protesting what they see as an undue interference of the government in the religious affairs.