Jihadawi Harekat’s linking of Ethiopian Muslim protests to jihadists entails concerns about situation & justice system

15 Feb

By William Davison

Ethiopia, a US ally in the battle against Al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Somalia, added to mounting worries about religious discord in the diverse east African state by screening a provocative documentary on Islamic extremism.

Ethiopian Muslims are furious about the film, which they say dishonestly blurs the distinction between legitimate political protest and violence by using lurid images of foreign terrorists that have nothing to do with them.

The program, Jihadawi Harekat (Holy War Movement), ran on state-TV at peak watching hours last week, and it associates local Muslim protesters now on trial with militant groups such as Nigeria’s brutal Boko Haram movement and Somalia’s Al Shabab, as well as unrelated Ethiopian militants.

Currently, 29 leaders of a Muslim protest movement, and representatives of two Islamic charities are on trial in Addis Ababa, facing charges of plotting violence to create an Islamic state. The trial is being held behind closed doors in order to protect some 200 witnesses, according to the government.

The Muslim defendants were arrested in August after nearly a year of nonviolent protests over what they allege is unconstitutional Ethiopian state meddling in Islamic affairs.

“The risks posed by violent religious radicalism in Ethiopia are not imaginary,” says Jon Abbink, senior researcher from the African studies center at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “But the documentary is probably over-doing it; the susceptibility of Muslims in Ethiopia to Al Qaeda-like radicalization is slim,” he says, adding that the film would appear to “delegitimize” peaceful political disagreements by Muslims and set up the possibility of a “backlash.”

Read the full article on The Christian Science Monitor

TE – Transforming Ethiopia

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