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Preying and Praying: A Day and Night with the EPRDF

by Faysal Qassim

During the day on August 3, 2013, the Ethiopian government was unusually busy in its anti-Muslim operations. As night time came, however, the government immediately took a likewise unusual pro-Islam face. The Ethiopian state TV aired a special congregational Muslim ritual held on the 27th of the Holy Month of Ramadan. This abrupt shift in the regime’s apparent behavior may surprise some, amuse others, but surely shock many.Ethiopian Television live streaming.

It is striking to note that the live broadcast took place by the end of that same day when the government went crazy with its killing spree and massive arrests. According to many credible sources, the government had by then killed at least 11 people in Oromia region of Ethiopia, and arrested thousands for no apparent reason other than their assertiveness in demanding their constitutional rights. The aim of the uncanny night-time transmission is thus obvious: neutralizing the fast developing anti-Islam and anti-Muslim image of the ruling party in the eyes of its Muslim citizens.

This attempt at revamping public image is both bizarre and shocking. How would any government truly believe in the efficacy of an arbitrary, ephemeral and cosmetic measure as a panacea to the awful damage it perpetrated on its people? The government’s reasoning is not just quite amazing, however, but also utterly shocking. It lays bare the deeply condescending attitude of the EPRDF towards its Muslims citizens. If it really expected such a TV transmission would amount to anything positive politically, then it would be one more clear proof that the core of the party is infested with a chronic illness of toxic contempt for people.

But it is shocking also because the transmission was meant for those same people who have recently demonstrated, as a people, perhaps the highest level of political maturity and determination in current Ethiopia. Ethiopian Muslims have been protesting government policies for about a year and a half—having managed to escape the worst through their skillful and novel mechanisms of resistance. Their struggle has been an exemplary case of non-violent struggle against state tyranny, demonstrating utmost far-sightedness and fortitude. To expect such a daring and mature group of people to yield into so petty a propaganda work as the government is indulged in at present would manifest nothing but the paramount idiocy that the Ethiopian regime suffers from as it stands now.

Rather expectedly, the production of Muslim preys by EPRDF gangs could not be atoned by the TV transmission of Muslim prayers. As it is being exhibited widely on diverse fora, Ethiopian Muslims are actually more infuriated by the dirty works of the government, and are betraying even stronger determination to stage more protests in the near future. But more immediately, during that same holy night of Ramadan (the 27th) and in the ones that followed, very emotional supplications were being heard in different mosques across Addis Ababa, cursing the EPRDF regime and imploring Allah to bring down justice in the country. When people are preyed upon by tyrants, prayers do not serve the oppressive agenda of the oppressors, but the noble cause of the oppressed.

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