Muslims in Addis have continued to express their anger on the way the government has been handeling their affairs. On the third ”showdown anger”which Muslims has been doing every Friday since the demolition of their Mosque at Arat Killo,Muslim protesters clashed today,11.08.06, with federal police. Several handreds of Muslims are reported detained and many sustained wounds.
As per their continued action to express the anger following the demolition of Arat Killo mosque,Muslims stage demonstration every Friday. Muslims from all over the city headed today to the site of the demolished Mosque to perform their Friday prayer and then to join the demonstration. However,large number of Federal Police was already deployed. All roads leading to the site were closed and Muslims were prevented from reaching it. This resulted in unintended confrontation [on the part of Muslims] between the faithful and Federal Police.
Witnesses said that there was intense clash at Arat Killo but police managed to divide the crowd. A large number of Muslims mainly students of Addis Ababa University were arrested. Muslims then went to the nearby Mosques to attend the Friday prayer. Chanting Takbir - “Allahu Akbar” –some joined the congregation at “Filwuha”Mosque. Others went to Nur/Bani Mosque and the remaining to Anwar Mosque.
After the prayers particularly at Anwar,believers protested against the action being taken by the government first in demolishing their Mosque and now in denying them their right to express their anger peacefully. Police responded with firing bullets and beaten protesters who had nothing to protect themselves with. As a results a large number of Muslims were wounded,most of them severely. There is also unconfirmed report that two Muslims were shot dead. At least one car that belongs to the Federal Police was made out of use and several others had their windows smashed.
Police arrested several hundreds of Muslims including women and children. Despite a strong rain,the clash at Anwar Mosque continued even after the Asr (late after noon) prayer. Shops in the busy Merkato area remained closed for the whole afternoon. Additional police force was called. The demonstraters then left the Anwar Mosque at around 5:00 pm local time and headed to Teklehaymanot.
Another heavy clash between the demonstrators and Federal Police at a place locally called “Berbere tera” in Merkato and Teklehaymanot led to the arrest of more than 1,000 Muslims. It is at this stage that the two unconfirmed deaths were reported. City bus and federal Police cars were also burnt.
The exact number of Muslims detained, killed,wounded by during the day long clash is not immediatly known. Witnesses saw Muslims being taken away with several trucks of the Federal Police. Some are held to Arat Killo police station while other were taken to unidentified locations.
AP report that is already available on the net:
ADDIS ABABA,Ethiopia (AP) –Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas Friday at hundreds of stone-throwing Muslims who were protesting the demolition of a mosque in Ethiopia’s capital,witnesses said
Several people were bleeding in the streets,but the extent of their injuries was not clear.
More than 100 protesters were taken away in four military trucks;another 100 were under armed guard on the street. At least one car was overturned and several others had windows smashed.
Federal Police Cmdr. Hailu Demsash said he was aware of the clashes in the capital’s Merkato district,the main Muslim area of Addis Ababa,but he had no details.
Witnesses said the protesters were angry that a mosque had been demolished two weeks ago outside the Merkato district. The reason for the demolition was not immediately clear.
Ethiopia’s population of about 77 million is about 45 per cent Christian and about the same percentage Muslim,with the rest following indigenous beliefs.