Islamophobia in Ethiopia:
After collapse of ADAL, Kingdom of Abyssinia put pressure to Muslim and forced many of them to return to Christianity. The kingdom did not allow the Muslims to practice their religion in public, where prayers were performed in-house only. Muslims were not allowed officially to travel to Makka to perform Hajj until 1974, after military coup led by Migusto Haile Mariam. Mariam ordered freedom of religion and allowed Muslims to perform Hajj. Muslims in Eritrea were under similar condition.
Today, more than half of Ethiopians are devout Muslims, mainly in the outlying regions, and in the Eastern Lowlands.
Traditionally, the status of Islam has been far from equal with that of Christianity. However, the emperor Haile Selassie gave audiences to Muslim leaders and made overtures in response to their concerns, and under the Derg even more was done to give at least symbolic parity to the two faiths. Nevertheless, the perception of Ethiopia as “an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam” has continued to prevail among both highland Ethiopians and foreigners.
In 1964, Ethiopian Christian leaders attacked Somalia in a plan to end the Islamic presence in the region. At that time, Somalia was only four years old without proper military and government institutions. But overall this, Somalis defend their country very bravely and forced Ethiopia to retrieve. This was the first religious war between Ethiopia and Somalia.
In 1977, Somalis retaliates and occupied 60% of Ethiopian land and even gone close to Addis Ababa in 18 kilometers. The objective of Somalis was to return the Reserve Area illegally sold by British to Ethiopia. Ethiopia was unable to stop the Somalis. And as usually, Ethiopia pleaded to international support, and received military support of Russia and Cuba. Russia-Cuba Alliance forced the Somali military to go back into Somalia border.
In 2006, Ethiopian invaded Somalia on the bases of similar background. Ethiopia always considers the Somali Islamist as #1 enemy. Ethiopia saw the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), as the new threat to their national unity; Ethiopian Prime Minister Melese Zanawi follows the old procedure of the church, who considers the Muslims as major enemy of Ethiopia. Zanawi is man of principle but the unfortunate is those supporting Zanawi and Church Plan in Somalia like Transitional Government of Somalia (TGS) leader Abdullah Yusuf.
In similar manner Oromo is facing insult and pressure from Ethiopian government, where they don´t get proper share in the government and even their children are not allowed to attend the universities in Addis Ababa.
Melese Sanawi selected Christian man from Oromo to be Ethiopian President. He overlooked the Muslim majority of Oromo, because, simply, he does not want Muslim. This shows that Ethiopian government is not killing all Oromo but only the Muslims because of their believe in the Greater Islam.
Oromo is the largest community in Ethiopia in middle of lowlands, 90% of Oromo practice Islam as fundamental religion, Islam was introduced to Oromo in 16th century with neighboring Somali Community. Oromo has anti-Ethiopian armed movements and recently accused receiving military support and training from Eritrea. Current President of Ethiopia is from Christian Minority of Oromo, where Muslims has little access to government due to their armed struggle.
Islam vs. Ethiopian Emperors:
The battle between the Muslim leaders and Ethiopian emperors is active until today, because the Ethiopian invasion in Somalia has strong roots into the centuries old conflict between the Muslims and Ethiopian Christian emperor.
Ahmed Guray freed many parts of Ethiopia from the emperors who restricted the freedom of the people; the parties that ADAL army captured include Shewa, Gonder, Wollo and parts of Tigray. Some historians say the struggle between the Christian Emperors in Ethiopia and Somalis started from 1528 until today.
Emporer Lebna Dengel, who was ruling Abyssinia during the war with ADAL, plead for support from Portugal after his army failed to stop ADAL army. In the same manner, United States of America (USA) is helping Meleze Sanawi to stop the Islamist growing in the region. Ethiopia knows, if Muslim government comes to power in Somalia then it will come to ethiopia to free the thousands of the Muslim ethiopians trapped under Melese regime.
The government don´t allow construction of new mosques in the capital, Addis Ababa. In other hand, the European Christian missionaries builds new church every one month. Church bells are famous in Addis Ababa more than the Mosques.
The present mosques in Addis Ababa are centuries old; it is remainings of Othman Emporers. The Muslims don´t take part in the central government, and if any Muslim gets chance in the central government, he/she should be lapdog for Ethiopian Christian Emporer Meleze Sanawi. Muslims in Addis Ababa feel overtaken and always seek help from the Muslim world, but the failure of Somalia has led them into endless problems.
By Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi