Ethiopia Christians Attacked By Muslim Militants; Several Injured

Friday, October 20, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

WASHINGTON/ADDIS ABABA (BosNewsLife) -- Religious rights investigators expressed concern Thursday, October 19, about the situation of evangelical Christians in Ethiopia after Muslim leaders reportedly attacked dozens of believers, seriously injuring 12 people, including a pregnant woman, outside Addis Ababa, the capital.

In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, the US based human rights group International Christian Concern (ICC), with, said it established that seven Muslim clerics "brutally attacked" 50 or more Christians in Henno, about 404 kilometers (252.5 miles) south of Addis Ababa

The latest attack "is just one example of the increasing violence against Christians in Ethiopia," ICC claimed. "In fact, Islamic leaders are urging Muslims in the area to kill full-time Christian evangelists," claimed ICC, which has close knowledge about the situation in the region.

"The situation has reached such intensity that Christian leaders are in fear and moving in pairs to ward off attacks. Local Muslim authorities failed to take action against the Muslim attackers," the Washington DC-based group said.


Tensions rose since 2005 when two prominent Muslims in Henno converted to Christianity, identified only as “H,” a well known Muslim leader, and 'M', the son of a "well-respected Muslim tribal leader," ICC explained.

The two conversions apparently angered Muslim leaders in the surrounding region. "On July 20, 2006, 'M' hosted a worship service for other Christians in Henno and invited a choir from the Sidama region," ICC said. However the worship service gained the attention of the whole village, including Muslim leaders who allegedly responded violently by instigating a riot, "using gangs in the area."

The gangs were reportedly carrying local weapons such as knives, stones, and metal rods. "Muslim leaders demanded the expulsion of the choir from the area. The new believer and former Muslim leader, “H,” refused to stop the service despite their pressure. Consequently, the crowd began to beat “H” and other Christians in the house with their weapons," reported ICC.


'H' was beaten badly, "receiving five deep wounds to his head. Because he was beaten with an iron rod, he was also missing teeth. He suffered deep lacerations to his legs, where several ligaments protruded from the skin," the group added. “H’s” daughter-in-law "was pregnant at the time but lost her baby because she was also severely beaten," said ICC.

In total, twelve people were reportedly seriously injured, including five believers who were found to have lacerations on their body and received medical treatment in the nearby Shashamene Kuyera Hospital, according to investigators. “H” also received care but has recovered from the attack, ICC stressed.

Police eventually arrested 26 gang members, but they were reportedly released quickly because tribal elders appealed to the government. ICC said however it was encourage that 47 "key" Muslim leaders "became Christians and renounced Islam stating, "If Islam means killing innocent brothers and sisters – we do not want to follow it." (With reports from Ethiopia).

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