Several days after the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) disclosed that the government had demanded a political condemnation from the church, as a precondition for the celebration of Epiphany an open-air religious procession, an archbishop who had openly criticized Abiy Ahmed, one of the opposition political parties in the country issued a statement condemning the government’s intervention in religious affairs.
In a statement released on Monday, the Enat Party asserted that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been facing government pressure in recent times not to observe its holidays according to its dogma and canons. Epiphany is one of the holidays that has come under government pressure, as cited in the latest statement from the Church on current affairs and the Epiphany celebration.
The party emphasized that the government must respect Article 11 of the Ethiopian constitution, which stipulates the separation of religion and government, and cease pressuring the Ethiopian church regarding the manner in which Epiphany will be celebrated.
Furthermore, the party urged the government to respect religious, historical, and cultural values.
Epiphany, registered as a UNESCO heritage, is one of the religious festivals in Ethiopia. The Enat Party emphasized that the holiday should be celebrated according to the religious dogma and canon of the church, arguing that the celebration is not only exclusive to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church but is also a heritage to humanity.
Economically, Epiphany is one of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s open-air celebrations that attract tens of thousands of foreign tourists, generating millions of hard currency for the country. The Enat Party highlighted that this was possible because the holiday had been celebrated in accordance with Ethiopian Church traditions and canons. The party demanded that the government make the necessary security arrangements to ensure that the holiday is celebrated according to the religious traditions of the Orthodox Church.
The Enat Party also commented on security breaches by government security forces. This week, Abune Abraham revealed that vehicles entering the patriarchate are not searched, while those leaving are subject to searches, causing pressure on the church. The Enat Party stated that government security arrangements and the protection of the church should cease unless the church consents.
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