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Muslim Mob Severely Injure Three Christians, Ransacked Two

Churches in Ethiopia

Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2009) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 11, 2009, a Muslim mob severely injured three Christians and ransacked two churches in Senbete, a town in the western Arsi zone of Ethiopia.

An estimated 300 Muslims ransacked Mulu Wongel Evangelical Church and set fire to church property. They also attacked the nearby home of Evangelist Gizachew, one of the church’s leaders, destroying his clothes, chairs, tables, sofa, bicycles, and TV.

The mob then marched to Kale Hiwot Evangelical Church where Christians were celebrating the Ethiopian New Year. They attacked the Christians with stones and sticks, broke the left arm of Aberash Terefe, and seriously wounded Tefera Bati and Desaleghn Eyasu. The three were taken to the nearby Kuyera hospital and were discharged after treatment. The Muslims pillaged the church’s property and caused 52,000 birr ($4,127) worth of damage.

The violence erupted after Muslim leaders called for attacks alleging that Mulatu Eyasu, a second year Bible school student, and Berhanu Abose, a farmer, desecrated the Qur’an. Sheik Hussein Mohammed, Imam Ahmed and a third unidentified Muslim leader instigated the jihad attacks. The officials of Ethiopia are searching for them but they remain at large. The police have arrested Sheik Qufa Wonjelo, Moti Motamo, Domba Atota, Sero Sheik Ahmedin, Bamudi Tulu and Bati Barasso for perpetrating the violence.

Mulatu Eyasu and Berhanu Abose are also under police custody on false allegations of desecrating the Qur’an.

ICC sources identified Bati Wetiye, Lelisso Atota and Begelo as the masterminds of the attacks. The three are prominent Muslim business owners in the nearby town of Shashamane . They encouraged the mob to enforce jihad in order to eliminate Christians from the area.

Muslims are the majority in the small town of Senbete . Muslim leaders are incensed by Muslim conversion to Christianity. Some radicals are threatening to carry out further attacks against Christians.

According to the census conducted by Ethiopia ’s Central Statistical Agency in 2007, Muslims make up 33.9 % of Ethiopia ’s population and Christians make up 62.8 %. In the past few years, there has been an increase in the radicalization of Muslims in Ethiopia mainly due to the influence of Wahhabi Islam. Wahhabi Islam, which is sponsored and spread by Saudi Arabia , teaches intolerance and violence against Christians and other non-Wahhabis. Christians living in Muslim majority regions of the country have been victims of violent attacks by Wahhabi and other radical Islamic groups.

Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa and the Middle East , said, “We strongly condemn the violent attacks against Christians and churches in Senbete. We call upon Ethiopian officials to seriously investigate the violence and bring all the perpetrators and instigators to justice. We also ask Ethiopian officials to investigate the involvement of Begelo, Lelisso Atota and Bati Wetiye in masterminding the violence. We urge Ethiopian officials to ensure the safety of Christians in Senbete and protect them from further violence.”

Please call the Ethiopian embassy in your countries and ask the Ethiopian officials to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice and ensure the Christians’ freedom to worship in Senbete.

Ethiopian Embassies:



























Country

Phone

Fax

Email

USA

(202) 274-4575

[email protected]

UK

020 7838 3880

020 7838 3889

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Canada

(613) 235-6637

613-235-4638

[email protected]

Germany

49(0)30-772-0613

030-77-20-626

[email protected]

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