In Crisis Magazine today, my ongoing almost-nothing-to-do-with-jihad series on the Eastern Churches continues with “Keepers of the Lost Ark” on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Ethiopian Christianity in general. Here is the bit that’s jihad-related:
Today this Church, and the people who have so lovingly protected and preserved it for so many centuries, is — like all the strains of Eastern Christianity — increasingly endangered. Muslims make up only one-third of the Ethiopian population, but they are in in recent years in Ethiopia (as in many other parts of the world) growing markedly more assertive and aggressive. In March 2011, a Muslim mob in Ethiopia burned down 69 churches and displaced thousands of people in riots triggered by rumors that a Christian had desecrated a copy of the Qur’an. Then last April, four Muslims went to Kale Hiwot church, a Protestant church in Worabe (a predominantly Muslim area of Ethiopia) and told the pastor, Abraham Abera, that one of his closest friends was seriously ill and that he should visit him immediately. Once they had convinced Abera to go with them, they turned on him and beat him to death. When his pregnant wife ran up to try to save him, they began beating her as well. One of the attackers made their motive clear, saying: “You (Christians) are growing in number in our area. You are spreading your message (the gospel). We will destroy you.” And in November, a mob of 500 Muslims, including policemen, shouted “Allahu akbar” (Allah is greatest) as they burnt down a church that they claimed had been built without the proper permits, although it had been standing on that spot for over sixty years.