Friday, May 16, 2003

Ethiopia: Religion, 'new breeding ground for conflict.'

Date: Friday 16 May 2003
Subj: Ethiopia: Religion, "new breeding ground for conflict." (IRIN)
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator

ETHIOPIA: Religion "new breeding ground for conflict" (IRIN)

A three-day conference on federalism, conflict and peace building, hosted by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and the German development agency, GTZ was held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa from 5-7 May 2003.

A news release by IRIN (see link below) reveals some very disturbing language emanating from that conference, suggesting that religious tension is increasing in Ethiopia.

It is very disturbing, especially in the light of the persecution that is being reported in neighbouring Eritrea, to hear that Ethiopian politicians are being "warned" of the "threat" of the "collapse" of the "religious status quo," suggesting change is not tolerable. The warning is that "non-Ethiopian" religions will "prey" upon a weak Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Excerpts from the IRIN news release:

"Medhane Tadesse, a senior Ethiopian academic, argued that the religious status quo in the country was being 'dramatically eroded, incubating violent confrontation. The religious equilibrium is collapsing very quickly,'" he said.

Medhane also stated "that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was 'weak economically and organisationally' and was easy prey for other religions. Medhane argued that both the Islamic and Evangelical Church were increasingly being backed by foreign interests which were 'non-Ethiopian in culture and content'. He also stated that Ethiopia was already witnessing the beginnings of potential clashes between the Orthodox and Pentecostal churches."

- Elizabeth Kendal


ETHIOPIA: Religion "new breeding ground for conflict"
ADDIS ABABA, 8 May 2003
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)