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Ethiopian Muslim Group Says More Attacks against Christians Are Coming
ICC Urges Ethiopia to Protect Its Citizens from Further Attacks

Washington D.C. (March 17, 2011) – On March 8, 2011 armed Muslims entered the home of an elderly Christian leader who founded a church near the town of Asendabo, Ethiopia. When the militants began to assault the church leader, his grandson rushed to intervene, screaming at the men to leave his grandfather. The Islamists stopped assaulting the grandfather and turned their attention to the young man – swinging at his head and arms with their machetes. He sustained three wounds to his head and one on his hand before the men proceeded to rob the home and leave the young man for dead. The young man’s family was forced to make a three hour journey on foot to take him to a hospital in a nearby city, where he is still receiving treatment.

Asendabo is located in Jima province of Ethiopia. In. The attacks started on March 2 and lasted for a week; Muslims killed two Christians and wounded several others. The attackers burned down 69 churches and 30 Christian homes. They also robbed several Christian homes. Ten thousand Christians were forced to flee their homes following the attacks. The Muslims started the violence after accusing the Christians of desecrating the Qur’an.

ICC sent its representative to the area to investigate the attacks. According to our representative who interviewed church leaders, the attacks against the Christians were well coordinated, and the Muslim attackers gathered at mosques before commencing their violence. The mob was mobilized by Kawarja, a radical Islamic group. The group teaches its followers not to associate with Christians and not even to greet them. One of their stated goals is to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia, a country where Christians are more than 60% of the population. Members of Kawarja are funded by Muslims in Islamic countries. 

Unfortunately, Ethiopian authorities have failed to protect the Christian victims from Islamic attacks. One day after the attack started, ICC joined the church leaders in calling for the deployment of security forces but the local Muslim officials in Jima failed to stop the violence. The recent attacks stopped only after federal authorities sent in the military.

After the attacks, the Muslims announced through loudspeakers that this attack is only the beginning and should be viewed as only a warning to the Christians. They threatened that more attacks are coming and more Christians will be killed in the future attacks. We are concerned that Christians will be massacred unless the Ethiopian federal government constantly monitors the situation in Jima and other provinces where Muslims are the majority.

“One of the main and the most important function of any government is to protect its people. We urge the officials of Ethiopia to carry out their duty of protecting Christians from radical Islamists. We also ask Ethiopian officials to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice. Impunity will only breed further violence in the country,” said Jonathan Racho, ICC’S Regional Manager for Africa.