Ethiopia Muslims Boost Social Services

ADDIS ABABA – Expanding its social work in the Ethiopian community, the Islamic Affairs Supreme Council has revealed plans to boost its health and education services in the populous landlocked African country.

“Though the Supreme Council is a religious institution, its development wings will work as per the rules and regulations put in place for charity organizations of the country,” Sheikh Kiyar Mohammed Aman, the Council President, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, August 26.

The new services were first disclosed at a meeting organized by the council to discuss means of expanding social services in health and education.

These services will be offered in the Horn of Africa country through the Awalia Aid and Development Organization.

“The organization will strive to expand education service at all levels – kindergarten to college level – and work towards increasing health service coverage through building new health facilities and upgrading existing ones,” organization manager Se’id Asmare said.

“Awalia will work towards the success of the country’s efforts to distribute education service among all citizens and help the public get access to improved health services.

Awalia would “build a new kindergarten in the southwestern part of the country and build a seven-floor building for the Awalia School in the heart of Addis Ababa as part of efforts to expand educational facilities,” Asmare added.

The organization, Awalia Aid, which was once managed by a Saudi Islamic organization, became a part of the Islamic Council in 2012.

“Awalia is responsible to actively participate in the development agenda of the nation and enable the public to benefit from development,” Council President Aman added.

Muslims make up about 34 percent of Ethiopia’s population, according to the government’s 2007 census.

But other sources put Ethiopia Muslims at about 50% of the country’s population.

Last July, hundreds of Ethiopian Muslim protested against what they perceive as unjustified arrest of 17 of their leaders over terrorism charges in 2013.

Muslims say the government move is in violation of the constitution, which prevents the government interference in religious affairs.

Amnesty International has also condemned what the rights group described as the Ethiopian government’s use of repressive tactics against demonstrators.

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