Why Ethiopia’s "Islam Experience" Should Matter to the West

by Zelalem

Yet another Christian church was destroyed by Muslims in Ethiopia—this time by local authorities.

Heaven’s Light Church, which served some 100 evangelical Christians, was demolished last November 28. The church had stood and functioned in the Muslim-majority city of Harar for five years. In the days preceding the destruction, officials forcibly removed the church’s exterior sign and warned believers not to worship there, citing complaints by a local Muslim. Officials further told church members who had previously congregated at the church “not to gather under what remains of the church building.” Accordingly, Christians are now meeting in homes of individual believers.

Prior to the demolition of the church, when some Christian leaders protested, they were illegally detained, released only after community members, “outraged by the wrongful detentions,” called “for their immediate release,” reported International Christian Concern, a rights advocacy group supporting the Christians:

These are no isolated incidents, explained ICC, adding that it had documented “numerous ongoing land rights battles between churches and their local governments across Ethiopia.”

In many cases, ICC said, “churches have been operating peacefully for decades on land given to them by now-deceased former congregants.”

However efforts by local majority Muslim populations to “eliminate the public presence” of churches resulted in the forceful closure, destruction and demolition of several church buildings in recent years, according to ICC investigators […]

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Cameron Thomas, accused Ethiopia of violating the rights of devoted Christians. “Corrupt officials willing to defend their religion [Islam] rather than the laws they’ve sworn to uphold, are violating Christians’ rights by forcibly closing, destroying and demolishing churches across Ethiopia,” the official said.

If this is the treatment Christian churches receive by Muslim officials and politicians—“sworn to uphold” the rights of every citizen, not just Muslims—one can imagine the treatment churches receive by Muslim mobs. One example suffices:

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