Islamic State: Thousands of Ethiopians march in government rally over
murder of Christians by IS militants
Updated about 2 hours ago
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have marched through the capital in a
government-organised rally condemning the murder of a group of
Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya.
The official rally appeared to be aimed at channelling public anger
sparked by the killings, with a huge crowd beginning to gather shortly
after dawn in Addis Ababa's huge Meskel Square.
However, some demonstrators directed their anger at the government.
"Our brothers were murdered, the government must do something,"
Anteneh Tefera, a young demonstrator, shouted.
"Their blood is not the blood of animals."
The murders have horrified Ethiopians and sparked global condemnation,
including from Pope Francis who expressed his "great distress and
The IS video, released on Sunday, showed militants in Libya holding
captives who they described as "followers of the cross from the enemy
It showed one group of about 12 men being beheaded on a beach and
another group of at least 16 being shot in the head in a desert area.
"We gather to commemorate the innocent children of Ethiopia butchered
by terrorism and burned to death by xenophobia," said one speaker,
also referring to the wave of violence against immigrants in South
Protesters responded by singing, "Enough immigration! Change our
country by staying home".
A large number of Ethiopians leave their country — Africa's second
largest in terms of population with more than 90 million people —
seeking work elsewhere.
At least two of those killed were trying to cross to Italy when they
were captured, their families have said.
Many travel to Libya and other north African nations for jobs, as well
as to use it as a stepping stone before risking the dangerous sea
crossing to Europe.
Europe's southern shores have been swamped with migrants fleeing war
and hardship, hundreds of whom have died in a string of tragic
Calls for government action
Almost two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians, the majority of those
Orthodox Copts — who say they have been in the Horn of Africa nation
since the first century AD — as well as large numbers of Protestants.
Islam also has an ancient history in Ethiopia, brought to the country
by some of the earliest followers of the Prophet Mohammed, who were
sheltered there by the Christian king.
"ISIS doesn't represent Islam," read one banner held by a protester.
"Our peace and our unity will never broken by the extremists," another read.
But despite a heavy police presence, several anti-government slogans were heard.
"We are tired of speeches and propaganda! We want action! Revenge for
our brothers!" shouted a group of youths, who were quickly surrounded
by a police cordon.
"Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia, Liberia, Burundi, but the government
is not capable of protecting its own citizens!" shouted one protester,
referring to its peacekeeping roles.
"Where is the African Union? Where are the Ethiopian defence forces?"
a placard carried by a protester read, written in English.
Government vows to create jobs for young people
Police fired a few rounds of tear gas at some rowdy groups with the
demonstration ending before midday.
At the home of two of the victims in the capital's Cherkos district, a
banner was displayed showing them kneeling just before their deaths.
"A government that does not protect its citizens does not deserve to
be in power," the banner read.
The rally comes a month before Ethiopia holds parliamentary elections,
the first since the death of long-time leader Meles Zenawi.
Current prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn faces little if any
The government has promised to help repatriate migrants who are still
in Libya and has warned its citizens not to go to areas where the
Islamic State group is active.
"We will redouble efforts to fight terrorism," foreign ministry
spokesman Tewolde Mulugeta said, in reaction to demands for action
He said Ethiopia was trying to create jobs so the people did not feel
they had to leave to find work.
"We're trying to create opportunities here for our young people," he added.
"We encourage them to exploit those opportunities at home."
Received on Wed Apr 22 2015 - 20:50:07 EDT