by Tedla Asfaw
Ethiopian Christians and Muslims went out this morning from 10:00 AM to noon in front of Saudi Embassy in Washington DC to demand the release of 35 Ethiopians, 29 women and 6 men who have been detained since last Christmas. Their crime is praying in their home for Christmas. Wait a minute Iraq Christians even under Saddam Hussein were free to practice their religion what happen in Saudi Arabia the strong ally of USA?
We all remember that the 19 hijackers who slaughtered almost 3000 people on 9/11 were Saudi citizens and seems to me the culture of intolerance is deeply rooted in Saudi Arabia. Ethiopians which are also called “Habeshas” are hated in Saudi Arabia and in most of the Arab countries not primarily for their religion but for who they are, proud Ethiopians/Habeshas.
The sad reality is Ethiopians mostly women are on waiting list to go to these oil reach countries to help themselves and their families. Ethiopia under Melese Zenawi is known for exporting beside few agricultural products maids for the Arabs and children for West. The Saudi and many Gulf Nations are known for abusing our maids. International Medias including Arab Medias covered many human right abuses including torture against Ethiopian women for the last decade.
The twenty nine women and six men story only caught world attentions thanks to the brave women who told their story behind the Saudi Arabia’s Abu Ghraib last month on VOA Amharic program. Unfortunately VOA and DW Amharic did not show up on today’s rally because of pressure from Saudi Arabia. What Saudi hates America/West cannot love, a love affair of cheap and secure oil.
The good thing is the protest rally of more than two hundred people was covered by Medias like ESAT and Diaspora local radios including American media, CBC. Slogans demanding the immediate release of the 35 Ethiopians and call for religious intolerance to stop were carried and were read loud in Amharic, English and Arabic. The release of the 35 Ethiopians is the priority for Ethiopians in the Diaspora as well back home. Their names were read loud by Ms. Genet who herself know the jailed Ethiopians personally when she was in Saudi Arabia.
Imagine family members listening the names of the loved once in radio back home. The Saudi Ambassador was politely approached by Ethiopian delegates on Jan. 27 but he refused to meet the Ethiopian delegates. This is an insult to proud Ethiopians who gave shelter to Profit Mohamed immediate family members when they were persecuted on their own land. This was not lost on today’s rally participants or on the Saudi Ambassador to USA.
Tamagne Beyene the unstoppable Voice of the Voiceless Ethiopians together with Dawit Kebede the exiled journalist and Ms. Faith McDonald representing Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) gave a speech that energized the crowd. Ethiopians in ECADF paltalk room were following the rally live and participated by calling the number posted on the room’s banner, 202-342-3800 and 202-337-4076. This call will continue for the whole afternoon from all over the world where Ethiopians reside.
Saudi Arabia Embassy tries to ignore as if nothing happens in front of its door. It refused to accept the letter of the protesters including the 3,000 people signed petition. This arrogance in fact will bring Saudi Arabia in collision course with Ethiopians. The flow of poor Ethiopians in search of job to its soil will not give it a license to brutalize them.
Ethiopians know how to answer for Saudi Arabia’s brutality thanks to strong Diaspora all over the world. Organized protest against Saudis interest all over the world is needed to defend our poor people in Saudi Arabia and in other Gulf Nations who are known for human right abuse and torture of Ethiopian women be it Christian or Muslims.
This struggle is for freedom to worship and we have many who support our cause like IRD. We would like also to highlight this religious intolerance from one of America Allies in this election season because freedom of religion is what made America unique. If Saudi Ambassador is free to worship in America how could he deny such freedom to Ethiopians in his country? Is he not endorsing what the nineteen of its citizens did to America ten years ago, killing in mass the infidels? I urge all to call the above numbers and wake up the Saudi Ambassador from his day sleep. We will be back there soon!
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