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Ethiopia: 30+ Churches Attacked, Clergy and Church Members Killed in Rising Unrest

Persecution of Christians in Ethiopia: The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is an ancient apostolic Church that separated from Holy Orthodoxy over the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. It is not at present in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate or other Orthodox Churches, but with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Around 45 to 50 million people are members of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church, mostly in Ethiopia itself, where despite the fact that Christians make over 60% of the population, they are still subject to incidents of violence such as these church burnings, which could be the result of Islamic terrorism or of ethic and political strife. Either way, the Christians of Ethiopia are caught in the cross-hairs.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Ethiopia, see here.

“30+ Churches Attacked, Clergy and Members Killed in Rising Unrest in Ethiopia,” by Steve Warren, CBN News, November 5, 2019:

During the past two years since a young prime minister has taken over as the new leader of Ethiopia, more than 30 churches have been attacked with more than half of the buildings burned to the ground.

In addition, clergy and church members have also been killed trying to defend their church buildings against attacks from ethnic mobs.

The churches being targeted belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), which has a long and colorful history in the African nation.

Christianity Today reports Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a Christian and a member of the Full Gospel Believers Church, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his “efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation.” But some in the country say the peace prize was premature.

On Monday, Ahmed announced almost 90 people in his country had been killed during the month of October, victims of the unusual unrest and recurring ethnic and religious violence….

Last year, Ethiopia’s rate of internally displaced persons exceeded Syria’s. The nation currently leads the world with 2.9 million people displaced by violence, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

“There is a feeling of siege among many followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,” Elias Gebreselassie, a journalist based in Addis Ababa told the magazine. “The burning of churches could lead to a wider distrust within society and could be a time-bomb.”

About half of the population of 100 million claim membership in the EOTC, making it the largest church in the nation. Muslims make up 35 percent of the population with Protestants, Catholics and various tribal religions making up the remaining 15 percent….

But according to EOTC members, attacks on Christians have risen over the last 30 years. With the rise of church burnings in the last two years, some wonder if Muslim extremism is taking hold in the country.

But William Davison, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Ethiopia, believes the attacks may not be from religious extremists, but from others with political reasons in a country made up of several diverse ethnic groups.

Even though Christianity is intertwined in Ethiopian culture, some see the attacks against churches as a revolt against the EOTC, which some believe is out of step with the times….

Tewodrose Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America told the New African there’s been no announcement of an effort by the prime minister’s government to stop the attacks.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his administration have not addressed the targeting of church burnings, nor presented a plan to safeguard churches and Christians in the areas where they are being attacked,” he said. “He should not stay silent because the longer he’s silent and does not take action, the longer Ethiopians and the perpetrators will view it as not being a priority for Abiy Ahmed’s administration.”…

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