by Mustefa Idris
The Ethiopian Government has taken many with surprise when it imported the Ahbash ideology, put all the human and financial resource to forcefully impose it on Ethiopian Muslims. By doing so it openly put itself at add with the Ethiopian Muslims at large. Despite series of grave right violations, harassment, and interference in their religious affairs, the Muslim community remained tolerant of the injustice so much so that some even thought and wrongly assumed the Muslims community to be EPRDF sympathizer.
A year ago the EPRDF government came out openly and launched its Ahbashinization project. As recent material indicate this project has been on planning for more than a decade and this is helping us to interpret the motivation behind various measures taken against initiatives of Muslims to narrow down their differences and beef up their unity (as is the case with Addis Ababa Muslim Scholars Unity Forum) and the various religious motivated clashes and distractions Ethiopians of all faith were subjected to. They were all part of the grand plan and foundations to justify the implementation of the now one year project. Having all that the puzzle is why EPRDF is taking this measure which not only denies the badly needed popular support as well as one that has the danger of creating mess in the country. What factors motivated the government to ever thing of setting up a project which goes in collision to the basic and fundamental provisions of the constitutions? Was it not true and that the EPRDF was not loyal to its mission when it states that it works to re-dress historic injustices (religious, ethnic, …) and bring about freedom and equality to all Ethiopians, respect and protect the right of citizens, deliver justice and the rule of law? The launching of the project and the disregard to popular outcry has provoked the thinking mind of many to find out the real motive behind all the madness.
What was the real reason and motivation for the young students from AAU to barter their relatively better life with the harsh reality in Dedebit Berha? What ideology these revolutionaries developed over time about the grievances of Ethiopians (in our case religious grievances) and on how to overcome them? In this regard, the state of affairs of Muslims in Axum in particular and of Tigray in general have had a lot to tell but overshadowed by other factors – like the ethnic issue. The Ahbash project ignites the need once again to re-assess the basic and fundamental conviction of the TPLF hardcore when it comes of the right and religious freedom of Ethiopian Muslims.
Nothing of the two decades legacy of EPRDF tells us of its conviction in freedom, equality, respect for human rights, or the rule of law (This is particularly true to Ethiopian Muslims for they had to sustain injustices for exercising their religious rights on top of their sharing the day to day reality of the Ethiopian people). That is well acknowledged and we believe well understood as well. The question is WHY the EPRDF choose to launch the Ahbash Project NOW and in its current form? What national and International politics are serving as it guide? What role the rise in popularity of the nationalist forces in the country’s politics and the failure of the EPRDF ethnic politics has to play? How about the war on terror? How about the regional integration project of East and Equatorial African Countries as foreseen for example in the LAPSSET project (this is particularly interesting to examine given the fact that the focal areas of EPRDF campaign are those that form junction points)?
The unwarranted action of EPRDF against the will of people is challenging to every mind. Some have already taken the challenge, started piecing the puzzle and trying to give sense to the nonsense. Here is a document which we believe signals the beginning of such endeavor. We hope for more and profound works to reach the public soon. In the mean time let’s ponder over what this important document has to offer us. Let’s make sure also that we share it with people in our mailing list and our local community.
May Allah Bless our Country and its People.
Peace to all who works for it.