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Bringing desecrators of religious institutions to justice!

Bringing desecrators of religious institutions to justice!

It would not be an exaggeration to say that one of the iniquities Ethiopians abhor most is attacking places of worship. Ethiopians must condemn this vilest of acts in the strongest possible term. We should all bear in mind that an attack on one religion is an attack aimed at all religions and their followers. It is imperative to have no disillusion about the reality that last week’s burning down of mosques and similar attacks against churches before that are intended to unravel the tie which has bound Ethiopians for centuries. Given that such cowardly acts are a prelude to deadly internecine strife we need to stand strong as we always do. Moreover, we need to go beyond denouncing the perpetrators and play our part in bringing them to justice. Otherwise, the consequences will be dire.

Ethiopians’ diverse ethnicity and religious beliefs has not prevented them from intermarrying and coexisting peacefully for eons. This rich history of solidarity and tolerance, forged over centuries through the sacrifices of Ethiopians subscribing to both Islam and Christianity, must not be desecrated by satanic forces of destruction. In particular, elements which peddle poisonous rhetoric over social media in order to break the strong bond between Ethiopians by instigating religious sectarianism ought to be neutralized. It is incumbent on all patriotic Ethiopians to defeat those who having failed at fomenting intercommunal clashes are now intent on stoking religious conflicts to further their evil agenda. As they have no qualms about using gullible individuals as cannon fodders both Muslim and Christian laities have to be vigilant and expose them for who they are. It’s high time to join hands in foiling the nefarious plan of these forces. No more inaction.

The obligation to protect citizens from the kind of appalling acts which have endangered their safety primarily rests with the government. Where were local, municipal and regional administrations and security forces when places of worship were burned to the ground? Why was the security apparatus found wanting in anticipating the attacks on these places and taking the necessary preventive measures? What were they doing when four mosques were torched a week ago in Mota town of the Amhara region? These are some of the questions which have been asked of the government in the wake of the incident. Aside from vowing to put behind bars the individuals responsible for the violence, their identity and intention needs to be fully disclosed in the shortest possible time. The residents of Mota town and its environs should assist in this effort by providing tips to law enforcement agencies. It’s flat out wrong and indeed a crime for anyone, more so for government officials, to cover-up evidence or to shield the suspects from justice on account of their religion or ethnicity. Collaborating with  criminals only exacerbates the problem.

Ethiopia has no place for ethnic or religious extremism. Indications abound that forces bent on sowing the seeds of ethnic and religious conflicts in the country are spewing vitriolic narratives which in turn are echoed by credulous individuals. The fact that the attacks on religious institutions occur on the heels of the espousing of hatred by extremists is sufficient proof of a causal relationship between the two. 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.

The current state of affairs in Ethiopia recalls to mind the adage “united we stand, divided we fall”. Regardless of their faith or ethnic background it is incumbent on all Ethiopians to blow the whistle on the culprits behind the attacks on religious institutions. In the meantime the government has to establish an independent enquiry commission and bring the persons who masterminded, funded and perpetrated the violence. Trying to whitewash the whole affair will not do any good. Elements within government structures aiding and abetting the forces of destruction must be outed as conspirators and answer for their sins. Security and law enforcement forces on their part need to discharge their duties with impartiality and due regard to the national interest. Self-declared activists and opinion-makers would do well to desist from inflaming tensions that potentially could spiral out of control. The trauma inflicted by the death and uprooting of scores of innocent folks at the hand of criminals that were not held to account for their crimes is still raw. The government must strengthen its capacity to uphold the rule of law to avert the real specter of lawlessness. Upholding the law is not about settling scores; it’s about protecting the lives and properties of defenseless citizens as well as the security of the nation from malicious attacks. The people’s aspiration for democracy and prosperity can never be fulfilled if thugs do what they please with impunity. Though freedom is essential if democracy to thrive, it’s of paramount importance to deal firmly with anyone who abuses it. If the government wants the public to stand by it, it needs to carry out its law enforcement duties effectively. Then it will be able to bring the desecrators of religious institutions to justice.