– Two deaths were reported – Thirty-seven police personnel were injured
Mass protests broke out in Addis Ababa following Friday prayers as a result of anger over mosque demolitions in the neighboring Shegger city.
The demonstrations took place around mosques in the capital yesterday, May 23, 2023, including the Grand Anwar Mosque.
Demonstrators called for an immediate stop to the demolitions as well as the rebuilding of the 19 mosques already razed during the last few weeks.
Social media outcry has escalated due to the demolitions, with videos showing police officers in riot gear blocking angry protesters circulating widely.
The Muslim community has been demanding responses from the Oromia Regional state and federal government offices for the past few weeks but did not receive a positive response.
Previously, the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council and the Oromia Region Islamic Affairs Council expressed their opposition to the demolitions and called for immediate action by the government.
The Addis Ababa Police Commission reported yesterday that there were two deaths following the protest around the Grand Anwar Mosque.
The Commission also reported that 37 police personnel and 15 police assistants were injured during the protest. Police also reported that approximately 114 suspects were detained for allegedly playing “a main role in coordinating the protest.”
Muslim activists and religious leaders have voiced deep dismay over what transpired during the protest.
“It is heartbreaking that the government deployed force against peaceful protesters voicing opposition to the sweeping mosque demolitions,” prominent Muslim figure Ahmedin Jebel posted on his Facebook account, which has over 979,000 followers.
Another Muslim figure, Bedru Hussien, called the situation disheartening.
“The government needs to sit down and discuss with institutions representing the Muslim community, instead of trying to silence them by using force,” he said on his Facebook account, which has over 400,000 followers.
A few months after being established surrounding Addis Ababa, administrators of Shaggar City and the Oromia Regional State have been accused by rights groups of demolishing several residential houses and exhibiting ethnic bias during the process, which the city administration denied.
The Ethiopian Islamic Council also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) last week regarding interference from his office, demanding the mosques to be reconstructed. The Oromia Council, for its part, disclosed that at least 19 mosques were demolished in Shaggar City.