16 July 2012 [ESAT]
Ethiopian Muslims living in the capital Addis Ababa held a successful Unity Prayer at the Grand Anwar Mosque defying government warning. There is a big covert and overt security presence around the mosque.
Followers of the faith have been staging weekly protests to what they called government’s uncalled for interference in their religious affair. Only seven months ago, they staged a flash protest at Awoliya Mosque in the capital objecting to a blanket dismissal of teachers at an Islamic institution and the protest has been a weekly phenomenon ever since. They accuse the government of promoting an alien sect of the faith-Ahbash- in the country which the government deny.
The Unity Prayer was called for Sunday at Awoliya Mosque and had to be moved to the Grand Anwar Mosque after government security forces barged in to Awoliya and confiscated the food stockpiles collected for the event last Thursday. The government security forces incursion into Awoliya was met by peaceful resistance. Police had used truncheons and tear gas to push back the followers who resisted Police’s incursion into their place of worship. Tens of followers of the faith were said to have sustained various degree of injury while close to 100 were hauled to prison.
The Sunday event at Anwar Mosque called for the immediate release of those taken from Awoliya in addition to the backlog of demands for religious freedom and democratic election in the Islamic Council-Mejlis.
The people started flocking to the Grand Anwar Mosque in large numbers starting from 8:30Am local time. By mid-day the Mosque’s precinct was full and people in their hundreds of thousands were overflowing the surround market precinct.
The government has shut down electricity supply and telecom service around Mercato area where the Mosque is. Several sniper armed security policemen have positioned themselves on the rooftops of surrounding buildings.
The Ethiopian Federal Police have established a temporary police command at Oumer Semeter School which is within a couple of hundred meters from the Mosque.
The group of activists who are driving the peaceful movement have declared the event successful on their posing at the movement’s Facebook page.
The government is trying to control the flow of people in and around Mosques. Government ID cards are checked to screen Christians from joining the Muslims. The government has deployed heavy security around various s mosques in town.
Many observers believe the movement has come a long way from when it was started at Awoliya Mosque several months ago.