September 27, 2019
Apart from the rise in crime rate, one good measure of the degree to which security has become a serious problem in Ethiopia is that peaceful celebration of the major religious or civic holidays is making news headlines in the Ethiopian media outlets.
Addis Ababa Police Commission has issued a statement on Friday saying that Meskel celebration has concluded peacefully, and has extended appreciation to its police force and members of the community for their contribution.
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Patriarch Abune Mathias key message during his speech at the Meskel Square where the holiday was celebrated in the capital Addis Ababa emphasized peace.
“We need to protect our peace and unit as a common asset,” he told all Ethiopians.
With the seizure increasing numbers illegal arms flocking to Ethiopia from neighboring countries making headlines in state and affiliated media, and recent reports of the capture of ISIS and Al-Shabab militants as they were planning attacks targeting major public events, there was a concern about the possibility of an incident that could mar Ethiopia’s UNESCO registered cultural heritage- Meskel celebration.
As it turns out, at this writing no incident is reported across the country.
This year’s celebrations of Meskel, the discovery, by Empress Helena, of the true cross on which Lord Jesus was crucified as is believed in the religious tradition of the Ethiopian Church, was unique in that the turnout in different parts of Ethiopia was huge.
Addis Ababa police report said that apart from huge turn out of followers of the church, senior government authorities, diplomats and tourists attended the celebration.
Representatives from the Russian Orthodox Church and a team of journalists have also attended the festival.
It is also unique in the sense that it was celebrated just weeks after massive protests and demonstrations by the Ethiopian church followers against increased targeted attacks and burning of churches. Protestors were also demanding that those who are responsible for the killings of deacons, priests and worshippers be held responsible.
Followers of the church condemned government for falling short of its responsibility to ensure the rights of citizens to worship in freedom and protest their safety.
Currently, there is an ongoing dialogue between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church leaders and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. His government pledged that it will address all the demands that the church raised.
The Ethiopian church is one of the ancient churches the world over, and many of the country’s tourist attractions including Lalibela Church have something to do with the Ethiopian Church. Its contribution historically as a defender of Ethiopian freedom and independence is also immense.
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