Ethiopia has endured scores of atrocities over the past three years that have resulted in the death of thousands, the displacement of millions and the destruction of both private and public properties. In fact the country has been experiencing every week one deadly conflict on average since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) came to office in April 2018. Some of the conflicts have religious overtones, involving attacks on places of worship and the killing people for their religious beliefs. These egregious crimes do immeasurable harm to the shared values Ethiopians had forged over millennia. As such they constitute vile and grievous attempts which threaten to shake the very foundation of the nation. Though Ethiopians from all corner of the country had joined in condemning the perpetrators and calling for them to be brought to justice, the conflicts have continued to crop up, albeit sporadically. They understand well that they owe the duty to expose the actors intent on fueling religious tensions in order that they face the music. Discharging this obligation goes a long way to ensuring that the truth sees the light of day.
This week the Ethiopian Epiphany was celebrated peacefully despite fears of a repeat of the violence that had attended them in the recent past. Even as the security forces quickly put under control the handful of minor scuffles prior to and on the day of the celebrations religious leaders played a vital role in ensuring that the celebrations passed off without major incidents by exhorting the youth to refrain from engaging in violent behavior. This is a testament to the fact that the strong bond between Ethiopians is still thriving. It also demonstrates that Ethiopians are tired of the deadly violence that had accompanied some religious activities in the recent past. Forces which leave no stone unturned to inflame interfaith strife in Ethiopia better realize that attempting to provoke clashes between the followers of different religions is a futile attempt given the public has wised up to what they trying to do.
The legacies of Ethiopian politics for centuries—hatred, rancor, bigotry and backstabbing, among others— have only beget mayhem and destruction. Killing, torturing, incarcerating and exiling anyone who challenged the political establishment or is perceived to pose a threat have been the favored modus operandi of tyrants who have ruled Ethiopia throughout history. Myopic individuals and groups neither capable nor desirous to think outside the confines of their narrow universe are causing turmoil, spurning calls to ditch this backward and bankrupt brand of politics and embark on a shared journey to put in place a level playing field. These elements are bent on wreaking havoc by instigating a murderous ethnic strife and religious war. It should be abundantly clear that no political dividend can be derived from undermining the shared values Ethiopians have developed over eons. Though this tactic may work for a limited time, it is destined to fail when their true color is laid bare. As such it’ incumbent on the public to play a vigilant role in quashing any and all menace they pose; it must never let them play dice with its livelihood and the nation.
Ethiopia has no place for religious intolerance. Elements keen on sowing the seeds of religious conflicts in the country never tire of vitriolic narratives which in turn are echoed by credulous individuals. The ultimate goal of the peddlers of such narratives is to stir political instability and ride to power on the rubbles of the resulting upheaval. Needless to say the reluctance to heed the lessons of the past incidents and take the appropriate precautionary steps to thwart similar attacks in the works is bound to exact a toll far greater than before. That is why it is absolutely important to exert a concerted endeavor aimed at deterring elements determined to fan the flames of religious conflicts. The surest way to accomplish this is to work tirelessly towards building a nation where peace, democracy, equality and justice prevail.
For Ethiopians their beloved nation is a cherished gift; it’s a home for which its citizens have such a strong sense of unity and solidarity that ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, and lifestyle differences largely do not matter. They have built a country embodying a medley of interests and values given there is much more that unites than divides them. It’s because the tie that binds them is stronger than what divides them that Ethiopians have had a proud history of having never being colonized. They rise as one when their nation is messed with. And they are pained by attacks against fellow citizens. A heroic people who have paid sacrifices for their African brothers and sisters, Ethiopians have always abhorred division among themselves let alone descend into internecine strife. Characters sowing hatred and fueling conflicts should know that their evil strategy, which is anchored in eroding shared values, is unviable. Though they may succeed in the short-term, they will never triumph in the long-run.