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ICC Note

Eritrea has required all schools to become public and remove all religious education and ornamentation. They have closed a catholic school which refused to close itself and wouldn’t give the government their entire list of students. It has caused enough people to become upset that there was a protest in the capital, Asmara. This is a very rare occurrence, as the government is very strict and likely to deal harshly with anyone that acts out against the regime. This is just another step, by one of the most repressive dictators in the world today, to rid Eritrea of all religion.


2017-11-08 Eritrea (WorldWatchMonitor) Eritrea’s security forces shot at protesters, using live ammunition, in the capital Asmara on Tuesday (31 October) during a protest against the government’s plans to turn all schools public. This would mean forbidding students from wearing religious items such as Christian crosses or Muslim headscarves.

A local source told World Watch Monitor students had been told the move was “to prevent interreligious strife”.

According to the Eritrean news site Asmarino Independent the Eritrean government has had longstanding plans to transform all schools into ‘community’, or public, schools. In September it notified the schools, saying the changes would take place with immediate effect.

The website reports that one of the schools which received the notification was the Catholic Medhanie Alem Secondary School in Asmara. In the letter, dated 18 September, the regional Minister of Education is said to have ordered the school leadership “to close the school and to report to the [regional administration] the list of all the students”.

The Minister cited a 1995 government declaration, stating that all social activities, such as private schools, clinics and orphanages, should be government-controlled. The role and responsibility of the churches was solely to look after the spiritual needs of its members, it said.

When the Catholic Church refused, the government reportedly closed the school and incarcerated a nun, Sr Tinsaw, and a priest, Abba Haile Paulos.

It has been 15 years since the government introduced a law prohibiting Christian practice outside of the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran denominations, as well as Sunni Islam.


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