By Harmus Muhammad
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Muslim activists are reporting torture and abuses by security forces over growing opposition to an alleged government campaign to indoctrinate the community with Ahbashism campaign.
“An Ethiopian activist died after being tortured by electric shock and inhumane acts by government security forces,” villager Ibrahim Nuseyra told OnIslam.net.
He said a female activist, Firdaws, died last week after being tortured by security forces after attending a meeting called for by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (Majlis).
The meeting, led by Federal Affairs Minister Dr Shiferaw Tekelemariam, was attended by only three members, including Firdaws.
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Ibrahim said the female activist left the meeting after the Ethiopian minister insulted the Muslim Provincial Committee and branding its members as “terrorists”.
As she drove her car back home, the activist was reportedly kidnapped by security forces and taken to an unknown location.
“They tortured her with electric shock and beaten her in an inhumane way,” Ibrahim said.
The activist was later placed at her home gate.
“When her family and villagers got her at the gate, she was neither able to speak nor stand or move,” he said.
“Everyone couldn’t believe what was happening, we were crying, we knew nothing about what to do,” Ibrahim recalled.
She was later taken to hospital and sent to Saudi Arabia for a proper medical treatment.
“But she died in hospital due to severe injury and nervous system damage,” Ibrahim said.
The villager said that the mother of the dead Muslim activist was also kidnapped by security forces.
Muslims say that the torture of activists was not the first incident in Ethiopia.
“Three weeks before, another Ja’efer mosque Muslim lady preacher was kidnapped after her preach on the way back home,” Ahmed Sulayman, another activist, told OnIslam.net.
She “was tortured and beaten before being brought back on the street.”
Last month, seven Muslims were killed by security forces in Assasa town in Arsi province of Oromiya regional.
Ethiopia’s Muslims have taken to the streets in the past weeks to protest government’s interference in their religious affairs.
Muslims say the government is spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the Majlis to indoctrinate their community with the ideology of a sect called “Ahbash”.
The government of Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi has put the Ahbash in charge of the religious affairs of Ethiopia’s Muslims.
Muslims say the government move is in violation of the constitution, which prevents the government interference in religious affairs.
Muslims also accuse the Ahbash of launching an “indoctrination program” in predominantly Muslim areas, forcing people to attend “religious training” camps or risk police interrogation and possible arrest.
Founded by Ethiopian-Lebanese scholar Sheikh Abdullah al-Harari, Ahbash are seen by the West as a “friendly alternative” to Wahabi ideology, which the West sees as extreme and militant.
Muslims say Ahbash imams are being brought over from Lebanon to fill the Majlis and teach Ethiopians that “Wahabis” are non-Muslims.
Ethiopian Muslims are estimated at 30 million, making up nearly 35 percent of the country’s 90 million population.