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Stand for Silenced Ethiopians: Christian-Muslim clashes worry Ethiopian Church leaders

Friday, October 06, 2006

Christian-Muslim clashes worry Ethiopian Church leaders

Oct. 06 (CWNews.com) - Clashes between Christians and Muslims have left 5 people dead and many others injured in western Ethiopia during the past week, and two churches have been set ablaze. The unrests began on Sunday, October 1, near the town of Jimma, about 300 miles west of Addis Ababa. Reports indicate that the violence began when militant Muslims interfered with a celebration of Meskel, the Ethiopian Orthodox counterpart of the Catholic feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Islamic protestors reportedly complained that a bonfire started by Orthodox believers, as part of the traditional celebration, was burning on Muslim-owned land.
In May, Christians and Muslims clashed in Jijiga, in eastern Ethiopia. Christian homes and shops were vandalized in rioting there.
Ethiopian Orthodox officials have expressed concern about increasing tension between Christians and Muslims. "This is a worrisome situation for us," one official told local reporters. "These things never used to happen, but they seem to be starting now."
Although Islam accounts for a steadily rising minority, more than 60% of Ethiopia's 77 million people are members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
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