(By Hiruy Simie)
Title: Islamic Fundamentalism in Ethiopia
Author: Ephrem Eshete
Publisher: Ethio-Tikur Abay publishing house
Price: 25 birr
Published: 2000 E.C
“This book is a research that showed the development of Islam from its founding to its current state. Moreover, for both Christians and peace loving Muslims it gives detailed information as to the progress this danger is making in Ethiopia. Therefore, all Christians and peace loving Muslims must read this book.”
Rev. Berhanu Gobena
Preacher and writer on theology
“Fundamentalism is a religious movement which is deplorable by all standards. The belief such a religious movement propagates death to all that do not accept its teaching which shows its emanation from an insane brain. The author has presented a research by exploiting both historical documents and an evidence that shows terrorist activities which gave us clear information on the current terrorist problems. Therefore, we must all discuss on this issue. Thus, those of us who have other specialties other than writing must develop the reading habit and perform our obligations.”
Deacon Daniel Kibret
Author and Researcher on Church Studies
Islamic Fundamentalism in Ethiopia by Ephrem Eshete
Ephrem Eshete is a man who has written something more than a book; in fact a declaration that calls for an end to the injustice, we the laity of the EOTC had been suffering from for long. As a result, we all are indebted to him. Therefore, he has not just written some book, but rather had fought a spiritual war against forces of evil and deserves the praise and gratitude from all the laity of the EOTC.
The book is a grand research on the current, major problem we all Ethiopians face i.e. Islamic Fundamentalism. The core objective of this work is to explore and expose the inroads hitherto of fundamentalism since the genesis of Islam in the context of Ethiopia. He, therefore, stands unique for daring to say something over an issue which had paralyzed in fear many inside this country and abroad.
Why did we Christians of Ethiopia fear to say that we have been murdered these 17 years in an organized and planned manner? Others have not feared to surround churches and put to the sword our own fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers overnight. The answer is simple and is given well in ‘Islamic fundamentalism in Ethiopia’. It is fundamentalism exploiting the lukewarm stance of the government for its Islamizing Jihad, and the misty understanding of Christian laity and of fair minded Muslim compatriots.
The response from the government is also something we must carefully analyze. What are the measures it had taken on the fundamentalists? Why does it want move at a snail’s pace in the effort to expose the issue? If we take the case of the Jimma massacre people who filmed the event (Orthodox Church Singers) were the first to get into jail, not the killers. What is the rationale?
Today, there is a clear and imminent jihad wagged in Ethiopia but we are not witnessing measures pertinent enough being taken either by the government or by the laity or by the fair minded Muslims. Ephrem states in his book saying, “The reason why I wanted to write this book is because of the importance it has in opening discussion over a matter that had been rejected.” He further explained why we the Orthodox, the government and peacefully co-existing Moslems have a stake in this issue.
“If we aim to survive, then we must talk about this issue/ to pretend not to see this problem, to act as if we haven’t heard about it and to deny our death would never make us peaceful individuals or saints or patriots. If would only make us fools. Islamic Fundamentalism is taking root in the country. Its expressions are visible in our everyday life. It has reached a stage where it is not a secret any more. We can not deny it ... The government and the EOTC must come directly for an open discussion on the issue. Therefore, when I write about this problem none should say that I had the motive to see one religion fighting against another”.
The book has devoted 211 pages of pure research on the teachings and preaching’s of Islam in both its peaceful and its fanatical jihadic fundamentalist form. Ephrem Eshete clearly reveals the hidden motives of the jihadists in their mission to Islamize history over the question of the creed of Negus (king) Armah. The reason why state media such as ETV presented the king as though he had been a Muslim is another fascinating reading well explained in the book.
The book devotes a substantial portion of historical narrations on the pre-Gragn and post Gragn period. Hence, it gives us a historical background on Fundamentalist activities and the catastrophe they have brought over Ethiopia. The lesson we learn from this portion of history is the evil potential of Fundamentalism and the unending chaos it can bring. I agree with Ephrem Eshete in tracing Fundamentalism to some Arab states and at the same time exempt form this crime traditional Islam in its localized form. Ethiopian Muslims have at different testing times demonstrated their firm love for their country and their people irrespective of creed.
They have borrowed many cultural practices from us the orthodox and they have fully embraced it in an unidentifiable depth. Therefore, fundamentalism is only a deadly religious and political Ideology of colonization emanating from myopic Arabs and from our historical enemies who want to see the end of Christianity in the country. When traitors of the Ethiopian state agree to their demands to sell the country and its people such as in times of Mahefuz, Gran and in times of the Italian occupation they have succeeded in bringing pain and death to the children of God of the EOTC. Though, Ethiopians in birth, men like Mahefuz and Gran had a deep hate for everything Ethiopian. He strived to destroy symbols, the flag, the people and even the geographical entity from the map of the world by disintegrating the different people that make up the country. Ephrem Eshete shows all this so clearly and easily that his book becomes quiet absorbing for the reader.
This work undoubtedly serves as a warning bell for us to listen and wake up from our unmitigated sleep. The book also focuses on Fundamentalism in the 20th century. A detailed account of the introduction of “Wahhabi” fundamentalist teachings in the horn of Africa and its drastic spread in Ethiopia is another part well expounded in the book. This sect was first preached in Saudi Arabia. It later gained a foot hold in the historic city of Harar and became the bulwark of religious massacre conducted on Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia since 1991 G.C.
As the book underscores, the officials of this government have knowingly or unknowingly insulted the EOTC publicly on many occasions emboldened the fundamentalists to tramp on the law. This has gone to the extent of branding our church as a class enemy and as an institution of oppression. Some officials have gone even further to say “the church is a cave of gun bearers”. The book also names officials, who have exploited their capacities for religious favoritism.
Others have been caught red handed while they were engaged in helping the criminals to gain the upper hand through the power of the public office they held during the Jimma Massacre. The book compiles many past events that added fuel for the Jimma massacre. Today we need a person who could watch out developments and analyze them pertinent to this country and foretell future events if we are to enjoy an enduring peace. Ephrem Eshete has just done that.
Individuals with a background of heresy and Fundamentalism could at the expense of public offices dream to reduce the faithful of the EOTC into second class citizens in our own country. It is a situation I myself have faced in a court of law. This book therefore released the smothered injustice I suffered at the hands of such people at this particular time in Ethiopia. Ephrem Eshete’s book becomes a document which sheds light on the human right abuse perpetrated on the laity of the EOTC.
The book exposed the various techniques employed by fundamentalists to get the upper hand i.e. Islamize all through genocide. Some of the methods employed by the fundamentalists are like falsifying census reports, Islamizing history through intellectual jihad, conduct raids through armed terrorist groups, exploit democratic principles for penetrating countries, looting historical and material heritages of the EOTC, introduction of Arab culture and employment of dubious Islamic NGOs for reaching at their targets.
This book is a “must read” work for all the laity in the EOTC and for fair minded Moslems”. Each of us who call ourselves orthodox Christians have a duty to read the book and make our own decisions to survive. If we are not able to do the same as those who sacrificed all they have for our benefit like Ephrem, the least we can do is to learn and listen what they have got to tell us and support them by respecting their work. The book’s message should also be heeded by fair- minded Moslems. After all, they will not be exempted from the blind and heavy handed treatment of Islamic fundamentalism. In the near future, we are sure that Ephrem Eshete will get sufficient suggestions, comments criticisms for a more profound and critical second edition. May God bless and protect Ephrem!
Glory to God and His mother Saint Mary!!