Ethiopia at Risk: Radical Islam Harbored in Ethnic Extremism(Mathewos Filipos, M.D. )

Google Map of Ethiopia _ Ethiopian Opposition
Google Map of Ethiopia

Mathewos Filipos, M.D.   
September 10, 2019

Ethiopians fear their country is likely heading to a civil war and disintegration.  From time to time the approaching danger and its explanation are becoming more plausible.  Despite the Prime Minister Abiy’s repeated speech of Ethiopian unity, reconciliation and peace, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the party which he is leading are taking the contrary measures as instructed by the Islamic extremist Jawar Mohammed.  Defying the official government power, Jawar said, “there are two governments in Ethiopia” – one is that of the Qero, the clandestine Oromo youth organization, and the other that of Abiy Ahmed.  Ethiopians are questioning whether Abiy Ahmed is really in charge. Jawar has pulled the rag out from under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  The Prime Minister is battered from both the ethnic radicals and pro-union groups. While the prime minister is vainly trying to please both sides, the country is facing multi-dimensional threats.

When the Prime Minister ascended to power in April 2018, many Ethiopians believed that Ethiopia would close its dark chapters and violence and focus on addressing its developmental needs to feed its rapidly growing young population.  In the beginning, he won the hearts and minds of the majority of Ethiopians across ethnic lines. Unfortunately, the euphoria dissipated so quickly. Now Ethiopians are worrying about the survival of their ancient country that other African nations emulated and saw as a pioneer of Blacks independence, let alone achieving economic prosperity.  The vestiges of ancient Ethiopian civilization and the lynchpins that have kept Ethiopia together as a unified country are under a constant attack from radical Islamist and ethnic extremists. 

Politically motivated and to alienate the Oromos, for the last 27 years, the ethnic Oromo politicians suspended the use of Geez Alphabet and they are using the Latin alphabets.  Recently the ethnic extremists led by Jawar opposed the Education Roadmap, particularly the provision of Amharic, the official language, as a school subject, threatened and forced the Minister of education to withdraw his proposal.  On the other hand, the schools that teach children in Amharic in Oromia are also facing a threat of closure. In 2016, Jawar, published, the answer keys for the national exam on a social media and forced the government to postpone and change the national exam.  This year again, taking a different position, he came out first and accused the Ministry of Education of leaking the national exam. Given his history, Jawar must be the first suspect of hacking and leaking the exams to wreak havoc in the country. Bewilderingly, following Jawar’s request, the Ministry forced to suspend the results of some of the subject.  This has created a national disgrace and huge disappointment for the students and parents. Jawar used the delicate lives of young children to achieve his hidden goal. No government official tried to investigate and bring him to justice or denounce his criminal act. He continued to be the most polarizing and dangerous figure in Ethiopia. Now Ethiopia has reached the time when its citizens do not have a common language to interact.  It cannot even securely administer national exams.   

When Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) took power in Ethiopia, one of its governing strategies was to weaken and divide the Ethiopian Christian community and embolden radical Islam in Ethiopia.  Early on during the TPLF rule, many Ethiopians were warning about the imminent danger. In 2004, A very well-thought-out article, the Emergence of Radical Islam in Ethiopia (1991-2004) showed the looming danger.  Now things are getting worse due to the ethnic political movement which harbors the political Islam agenda which is led by the self-proclaimed activist Jawar Mohamed.  

The unity of Ethiopian Orthodox church is threatened and Orthodox Christians and clergies are persecuted and heinously killed while churches are burned.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest churches in the world is facing division along ethnic lines.  A group from Oromia is threatening the Ethiopian Orthodox Synod to establishing its own administration.  Jawar and his Oromo Media Network (OMN) are behind this and engaged in media campaign. Jawar Mohammed is leading the destabilizing strategy and exploiting this dire situation to achieve his sinister goal.  The Synod discussed the issue with the Prime Minister and his deputy but no resolution was reached. The inaction of Prime Minister Abiy is feared to cause turmoil in the country. His stand is not clear. Many are puzzled by his relationships to Jawar.

PM Abiy had the support that Ethiopian leaders did not have in recent history.  Now many of his supporters are suspecting him of covertly working with the extremist Jawar.  In many occasions, Jawar himself stated on public media that he closely worked with and advised PM Abiy and his ministers.  No government official came out and denied or contested what Jawar repeatedly said. While Dr. Abiy warned in public the award-winning journalist Eskinder Nega, for organizing the Addis Ababa Trust Association, he did not say a word about Jawar Mohammed’s constant subversive and undermining efforts.  Eskinder was a prisoner of conscience for years under the TPLF rule, while PM Abiy was a government minister, and released when Abiy took power. From time to time, PM Abiy is leaning more towards approving Jawar’s agenda disappointing the majority of ordinary citizens who supported him. This can eventually lead to destabilizing the Horn of Africa and can have a far-reaching effect. 

The Voice of America (VOA)  reported that Islamic State Militants in Somalia – ISIS  is planning to target restive Ethiopia. This has come as no surprise for those who closely follow the ethnic and religious conflicts in Ethiopia since EPRDF took power and which got worse in the last two years.  

VOA reported:

The announcement came in the form of a three-minute video released last month by pro-Islamic State sites and endorsed by the official IS media. The video posted the words to one of Islamic State’s best-known chants in Amharic and promised IS will release more materials in the language, one of the two most-spoken tongues in Ethiopia.

The report added, according to Matt Bryden, an Africa analyst with Kenya-based Sahan Research, that ISIS is targeting Ethiopia because a fertile ground is created in Ethiopia due to ethnic conflicts and political unrest which can be a hotbed of violent religious extremists.  

Jawar and his OMN which is established as a charitable organization in Minnesota, USA, and which also has a branch in Ethiopia, are pushing Ethiopia into lawlessness and civil war so that his radical Islam agenda and ISIS will control Ethiopia and the Horn.  The source funding for OMN is not clear. There is concrete evidence that Jawar is working towards this evil goal. In his speech which is available on YouTube Jawar identified Ethiopian Oromos with Islam and encouraged Oromo Muslims to behead Christians and control political power.

Jawar openly instigated ethnic cleansing.  He is known by his notorious speech – Ethiopia out of Oromia and Meles out of Somalia.  He sided with Al-Shabaab by opposing the Ethiopian’s army involvement in Somalia to eradicate Al-Shabaab.  He manipulated the desperate unemployed youth in Ethiopia who were suffering under the brutal TPLF to achieve his hidden mission.  

Jawar’s destructive activity is not bound by Ethiopia’s boundary, he has laid a transnational network.  In June 2018, Jawar traveled to Kenya to achieve his dream of establishing greater Islamic Oromia by bringing together Muslim Oromo speakers from Kenya and Ethiopia and disrupt the Horn of Africa.  He also showed off his seditious activity to the Arab speaking nations by broadcasting on his OMN in Arabic. 

Jawar’s supporters lynched an innocent young man, which is the most inhumane act in the recent Ethiopian history.  The blood-thirsty mob of young people gathered to welcome Jawar in a town called Shashemene, stoned and killed a young man and hanged his body upside down while the crowd jubilating and video recording the whole incident.  The horrific act was shared on the public media. 

As part of the public housing project, the Addis Ababa Administration built the Koyefeche condominium and planned to distribute the affordable condominium units to the low-income residents who deposited their hard-earned money and were waiting for years.  Jawar organized a violent machete and pol-carrying protestors and instructed them not to allow the owners to move to the buildings.  He stated, “They (the new residents) can move in after we are buried.” As a result, the government complied with Jawar’s order and delayed the distribution of the condominiums.

Jawar is also behind the recent unrest in Sidama that cost 53 lives of civilians.  He spoke on a meeting and encouraged the Sidama youth to separate Sidama from the Southern Peoples region through violence and establish a separate regional state. Following his order, civil unrest took place.   According to the police report, the violent youth killed 53 civilians, wounded 54, and burnt houses that belong to non-Sidama ethnic groups.  The death toll could be higher. Jawar’s crimes have gone unpunished.  He is organizing ethnic groups in different areas of the country to push for more separation. 

TPLF introduced the ethnic apartheid policy in Ethiopia.   Apartheid is a government policy of segregation of its people along ethnic or racial lines.  Jawar and his followers are perpetuating this policy of segregation and discrimination. Now, after TPLF lost its control of the center, Jawar and his followers like Bekele Gerba and Dr. Ezekiel Gebissa are closely working with the criminal TPLF leaders to further create conflict along ethnic lines and attack the ethnic Amhara and Ethiopian Orthodox Christians by creating what they called the federalist front and Cushitic group. 

The achievements of Prime Minister Abiy are undermined and overshadowed by the acts of Jawar and ethnic radicals.  Ethiopians who do not buy the ethnocentric politics are pushed to the corner from every direction, sandwiched between the TPLF and radical Oromo nationalists.  The persecuted Ethiopians are being forced to defend themselves in an organized fashion. This poses further challenge to the country that is beset by inflation and poverty.  The problem, in a country with over 100 million people, can have a catastrophic effect on the region causing a colossal humanitarian crisis. Democracy is when ordinary people exercise power.  The Prime Minister should choose to stand with the majority of law-abiding, ordinary citizens and take legal measures to check the organized ethnic and Islamic extremists. Dr. Abiy, the opportunities are slipping through your fingers.  Make Ethiopia a better place for its citizens. Keep your promise, abolish the apartheid system, uphold the rule of law, and act now to protect and defend citizens’ right.  

Editor’s note: Views reflected in the article reflect views of the writer, not borkena’s view. To publish an article on borkena, please send submissions to

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