January 26, 2009

Jihadists in Gondar! – Symptom of the Global Syndrome?

Did you read the news በጎንደር የክርስቲያን-ሙስሊም ግጭት ተከሰተ? The following is an article I posted two years ago (courtesy of adebabay blog). I think it will be another eye opening information for those who solely attribute each and every problem to the EPRDF government and forget that there is really a problem of Islamic extremism in Ethiopia. Is there really an Islamic threat blossoming in Ethiopia or is it a Christian fanatic hatred towards our Muslim brothers and sisters? I wish our Muslim brothers and sisters be honest with these developments.

Cher Weere Yaseman, Amen.

Jihadists in Gondar! – Symptom of the Global Syndrome?

· Investigation paralyzed

Many Ethiopians regardless of their religion and locality, I believe, couldn’t possibly have the right picture of recent religious clashes in their motherland. Why? Simply because it is beyond their experience or due to critical lack of information about the dynamics of different religious groups. Reasonably their first hand experience does not warrant any different picture other than sporadic and personal conflicts among followers of different religions particularly between Christians and Muslims. Yet, either they recognize it or not a new pattern of clash is emerging or has already emerged.

Religion ‘related’ clashes reported in the last ten years have their own patterns and features. The clashes are more organized and in most cases incited in some way to bring the other party into confrontation. According to my source that have been digging similar cases for long, some ‘organized’ Muslim groups lead this new trend by far than their own Muslim compatriots and Christians. While many Ethiopians are giving a lip service for the terrorist attacks reported in Somalia, Palestine and Israel, a similar breed was incubated in the middle of their parishes and mosques. If any of my readers couldn’t believe the new terrorist type brutality and organization reported in the news media, I invite them to watch a video film recorded immediately after the recent butchery (to use the right word) near Jimma town. By the way this film is on sale in Addis. You can get it with vendors; just ask politely.

Jihadists with Machetes in Gondar?

The story of the Gondar Jihadists is one among many. Thanks to my five reliable sources, one of them a Muslim, the Gondar town story is a telling one. A tension between some Muslim groups and Christians escalated when Muslims claim to take two historical holly-water places of the Orthodox Church and that couldn’t be resolved by all respective local government bodies. While the issue was waiting a miracle to solve, police received one unimaginable leak of information by mid June 2006. The leak claimed that one truck of machete entered the town with specific details (I don’t disclose the name of the driver and plate number to protect my sources.) The machetes distributed immediately to unknown destinations. However the police find out the driver and the truck after three days.

The police then began to assess the whereabouts of the machetes and search even few mosques and houses. It was not in vain; they found more than 130 machetes in two mosques and another 150 in three resident houses. Where are the remaining machetes? NOBODY KNOWS! This led the police to a more complicated investigation of the crime. The result being dreadful; a “Jihad Committee” organized underground. This committee deposited 70 million Birr only in one account. The investigation continued and police find a compound used as a military training center in Gondar town with the help of responsible Muslim compatriots. It is found that the Jihadists have merged three residential compounds into one bigger training center. Witnesses told the police that there were about 1000 trainees at one time in this center. Reportedly my sources confirmed that police have caught and investigate some of the trainees. Similar training centers discovered by Police in Dabat and Denbia districts. Unlike the Gondar town training center, these were operating as orphanages. 400 militant trainees caught red-handed in these compounds and investigated. However most of these trainees are released latter on and no one, including police, knows where they gone.

Police find very important leading evidences in these training centers which includes: fax machines, wireless telephones, camera, hand grenades, list of individuals to be assassinated (most of them leading scholars of the Orthodox Church in the area and their students, priests and deacons), list of jihad suicide volunteers and their relatives who would take the reward after their death etc. A Jihadist caught red-handed with a hand-grenade twice while trying to kill a leading scholar in Gondar town.

While the evidences are calling for further investigation, however, the process is delayed beyond once expectation, my source commented. The case before months transferred to federal police. According to recent reports many residents of Gondar town are demanding an official investigation and result of the case in the last few weeks.

The case of the Gondar Jihadists is only one part of a set. We don’t know what is happing in other remote areas of the country. There might be many similar movements everywhere. Who knows? The butchery witnessed and filmed recently further confirms once fear of similar jihadist connections.

What are the current issues in the relation between Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia? What is the way out? What can each of us contribute to be part of the solution, not the problem? Could there be ethnically and religiously divided Ethiopia? What is the current dynamics of these two flaming human factors in Ethiopia? A CALL FOR AN OPEN DIALOGUE BEFORE …!
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