Millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Church Followers Stage Another Round of Demonstrations

By Staff Reporter

Church-demostrationsSeptember 22, 2019 ( -- Millions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church followers once again took to the streets on Sunday, September 22, 2019, in  many cities and towns in Amhara regional state of Ethiopia calling for an end to attacks against priests and followers of the church and the destruction of churches.

The second round of demonstrations in two weeks were held in Bahr Dar, Debere Berhan, Bichena, Fenote Selam, Bure Debremarkos, Debarkand Enjibara Bure, Debermarkos, Mota and other towns of the region.

This round of massive demonstrations were unique in that Ethiopian Muslims also participated. The Muslims demonstrators said the attacks against the Ethiopian church and its followers are of concern to them as well. “We cannot sit and see when our Christian brothers and sisters are killed, and their churches burned to ashes. Unless the government commits to stop the violence, the attack would continue against the Ethiopian Muslim community too, they said.

Demonstrators demanded an end to what they thought were planned and orchestrated attacks on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. They demanded the government to apologize for its recklessness in handling the situation while the Ethiopian churches were burned down and the killings of followers by armed groups.

The demonstrations sang religious songs and chanted slogans, saying “those who attacked the church and killed its followers should be held accountable,” “the decisions of the Synod must be respected and the government should rebuild the burnt churches immediately.”

“The church has contributed to the freedom and independence of Ethiopia by nurturing courage and unity, and it does not deserve this mob attack” were some of the slogans. About 30 churches have been burned across the country since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018.  Some of the demonstrators said government officials have not done much when followers of the church were killed.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has experienced mob attacks mostly from ethnic radical groups in various ethnic-based violence in different regional states – mainly Oromia, SNNPR, Benishangul and Somali region of Ethiopia.

The demonstrations finished after mass prayers and resolutions demanding the government to act immediately.

Ten organizations affiliated with the church were planning for demonstrations last week but postponed it to November 9 pending results of the ongoing dialogue with the government which reportedly promised to address the demands of the organizations to protect churches from mob attacks and other forms of attacks, including government interference from church affairs.

It is to be recalled that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church recently faced a rebellion from some in the Oromo community who demanded to establish their own synod independent of the national synod. Kesis Belay Mekonnen, who allegedly is also a politician and a member of the Oromo Democratic Party, and his colleagues insisted that they will continue with their plans to form an ethnic Oromo Ethiopian Orthodox Church structure on their own. The holy synod under Patriarch Abune Mathias has outlawed them.

The massive demonstrations held in different cities showed that followers of the Ethiopian Church did not accept that the demonstrations were postponed.

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