By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 15, 2020
The Inter-religious Council of Ethiopia, reportedly, held an emergency meeting yesterday concerning remarks by a Muslim teacher in a sermon broadcast by Walta TV, a government owned television channel. The remarks by the teacher, made on the night of May 13, had caused anger among Orthodox Christians as they were perceived to have been spoken against the faith.
The council discussed the matter in the meeting and reached an agreement that the teacher’s remarks were inappropriate and against the rules that were made to govern the daily broadcast of religious prayers and sermons. Accordingly, the Council has requested that the religious institution responsible for the sermon and the television channel that broadcast the sermon and failed to take any corrective measures subsequently to apologize.
The daily broadcast of prayers and sermons at night time was started in April following the closing of mosques and churches in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Its goal was to enable members of different religious institutions to attend religious services while staying at home. According to Liqa Teguhan Kesis Tagay Taddele, the Secretary General of the Council, there was an agreement signed by representatives of all religious and media institutions who were participating in the program. This agreement states that “No Sermon by a religious institution shall rebuke, criticize, or disrespect the faith of another religious group (institution).”
Accordingly, the council has passed the following decision points:
- The religious institution that committed the error shall, through discussions held at higher levels of its internal administration, make sure that such errors shall not occur again and also apologize for the present one.
- From now on, all programs, prayers and sermons, shall not be broadcast live but shall be prepared beforehand instead.
- Walta Television shall also apologize for its failure to take corrective measures after having broadcast a message that violates the agreement signed for the purpose of the program.
The Secretary General has also asked, on behalf of the Council, that followers of all religions refrain from making remarks concerning the issue that will lead to needless conflicts and degrade the value of togetherness of the two faiths that is characteristic of Ethiopia.
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