The confidence that was wrongly placed in the current Ethiopian government in rectifying the historical injustice that was committed by the previous governments is quickly plummeting as we see a trend of similar behaviour of the previous rulers being exhibited.  While initially Ethiopian Muslims were hopeful and supportive of the EPRDF government, current events that culminated with the recent revelation of the skewed Census Population have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that for Ethiopian Muslims in relation to our demand for an equal right is far fetched aspiration that keeps eluding us.  One thing that has become abundantly clear is that as Ethiopian Muslims, we have a long way to go to achieve our equal rights and the illusion that our rights will be given to us is something we have to abandon and quickly realize that rights are not given as the Prime Minister have been heard saying repeatedly but rather acquired.  To this end, we have to muster our wherewithal in getting organized toward achieving equality and justice.

I have watched the interview that ETV conducted with Mrs. Samia Zakaria, Director General of the Census Population regarding the process of how the Census was conducted and of course the reporter asked questions that he was coached to ask and designed to get an answer that he and his bosses wanted to hear not necessarily to get to the bottom of the issue.  Of course Mrs. Samia was very generous in providing him with what he was looking for in uncertain manner when she convincingly stated that 33.9% of the population is Muslims.  Now one wonders why the reporter would only be interested in knowing the number of Ethiopian Muslims. Why wouldn’t he ask about the number of Christians? Or the atheists for that matter, unless the reporter was asking the question to find solace in Mrs. Zakaria’s answers.  The most telling of all is that Mrs. Zakaria informed us that the agency deployed close to 90,000 teachers to conduct the survey.  Would she be able to tell us how many of them were Muslims? Now you can accuse me of being racist, but in a country where the dominant culture and view has not changed when it comes to the Ethiopian Muslims’ rights, how am I supposed to entrust my counterparts who do not believe in my existence as a Muslim of an Ethiopian origin to be the ultimate judge and place responsibility in deciding on my behalf. This is indeed a case of a fox entrusted to look after a chicken.

I am encouraged to see the recent gathering and expression of dismay and a rejection of the census result. However, I urge all those who have the ability to impact changes continue to deliberate on these issues and impress upon our communities that this is unacceptable and that we need to put our resource toward bringing a real change.  I have said in the past that census is not only body counting, but it has significant implications in meting out policies that will have long lasting implications for generations to come.  This point was in fact clearly reiterated by Mrs. Zakaria and assured the reporter of ETV that this is the case and that policy makers will be using this data for future government activities and allocation of resources.

Mrs. Zakaria brushed aside all previous numbers as a guess work and only estimates and she reports by saying the reality on the ground does support her scientific findings.  What makes this census results more doubtful of its scientific precision that Mrs. Zakaria talks about is that many of those who want to see the stats quo of “Christian Island” maintained, have been heard using the same figures before they were officially announced. Well, I guess she is entitled to her views on the matter, but all rational thinkers will have a hard time believing the unbelievable.

Let us work together in bringing a real change that is truly inclusive and fair system that reflects the true demographics of the Ethiopian population.

Just before I wrap up my modest article, I would like to point out one striking statement that she made in this regard.  She only counted those who are residence of that particular place.  Did she count those who are not Muslims but went for business to area where Muslims are dominant?  There are a plethora of questions that need to be answered.  However, it has become crystal clear that you cannot find an honest answer from the types Mrs. Zakaria who have become complacent in the blunder of a historical magnitude.

[By: M.S. Tahir]