THE Pope has called for prayer for all victims of violence in Ethiopia, where 86 people, including Muslims and Christians, have died in protests.
On Sunday, Pope Francis said that he was “saddened” by news of the violence, “which has among its victims Christians of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahado Church”.
The same day, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, said that 50 of the victims were Oromo (the largest ethnic group in the country). Forty were Christians, 34 were Muslims, and the rest belonged to other religions.
“We have to stop those forces who are trying pull us two steps back while we are going one step forward,” he said.
On Wednesday, the three priests at St Matthew’s, an Anglican church in Addis Ababa, the Revd Dr Pete Myers, the Revd Wondimayehu Wondigorgis, and the Revd John Gach, said that the church was praying “for peace in this great nation of Ethiopia, which has so much to offer the world. As a community of faith in the heart of this amazingly diverse country, we weep with those who have suffered recent loss, but also celebrate the incredible successes of this amazing people.”
The protests began last month after an Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, said that police had surrounded his home and had tried to withdraw his government security.
Last week, Amnesty International, which has previously documented “sweeping repression” of Oromos, criticised the Ethiopian authorities’ “continued misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to arbitrarily arrest and detain government critics”.
In recent years, clashes between different ethnic groups have caused mass displacement in Ethiopia. Some have argued that Mr Ahmed’s political reforms have emboldened groups that were formerly banned, and allowed sectarian tensions to erupt. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month, after agreeing a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea.