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Saturday 1 November  
Christian house burnt near Asendabo
Luc van Kemenade's picture
Asendabo, Ethiopia
Asendabo, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Christians flee after church burnings

Published on : 20 March 2011 - 10:01am | By Luc van Kemenade (Photo: RNW)
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Evangelical churches and homes have been burnt down by mobs of Muslims in the southwestern Jimma region of Ethiopia. The attacks have left at least one person dead and 7,000 displaced. “This is a strategically planned attack by an extremist Islamic group.”

“It is a miracle that we are standing here talking,” says Wolde Giorgis, a primary school teacher and devout Christian, standing in front of the burnt remainders of what used to be the largest Pentecostal church of Asendabo, a town in the southwest of Ethiopia that is predominantly Muslim.

Wolde says to fear for his life. “I will leave this place as soon as possible, like so many Christians already did. I don’t know what will be next: first they burn our churches and houses. Are they going to kill us now?”

69 churches burnt down
Evangelical churches and homes of Christians in Asendabo, about 300 kilometers southwest of capital Addis Ababa, and other towns in the Jimma region were torched earlier this month. Thousands of them have fled their hometowns to safer areas.

More than 46 churches belonging to the Pentecostal Kale Hiwot (Word of Life) Church and 23 belonging to other Christian groups have been burnt down, says Temesgen Wolde, coordinator of the Kale Hiwot department in Jimma City. His church shelters eighty refugee Christians in a tent.

Flushing Qurans down the toilet
The attacks began after Muslims accused the Kale Hiwot Church in Asendabo of flushing Qurans down the toilet and using its pages as toilet paper. “Within a short period of time a large group of Muslims attacked our Church screaming ‘Allahu Akhbar’,” Temesgen says.

What started as a seemingly local conflict spread to different places in the region within two days. Temesgen: “This puzzles me. Although I don’t have any evidence it looks like a strategic plan to hurt our church and followers.”

Not religious but political
According to Teshome Degefu, mayor of Asendabo, the conflict is not religious but political. “An opposition group of Muslim extremists called Kawarja has incited the attacks,” he says.

The mayor says the radicals have been preaching religious intolerance and stirring up Muslims during secretive gatherings outside of his town, resulting in an organized attack.

“I tried to stop the angry crowd, but they wouldn’t listen,” says Imam Hadjima Mehamed Adem. The head of the Tofik Mosque in Asendabo says he is sure that his followers were not among the attackers.

No future for Christians
“They were youngsters from outside the village who have been brainwashed by Kawarja extremists,” he says. “It is difficult for them to distinguish an Imam from an extremist and they are receptive to their ideas.” Besides preaching in the mosque Imam Hadjima says he will talk individually with youngsters in rural areas. “We need to restore peace within our community.”

Wolde Giorgis says he does not believe that will happen: “I don’t care who started the violence. The fact is that thousands of local Muslims, my neighbors, have participated in it. That’s why I don’t see a future for me and other Christians in this town anymore.”

  • Christian refugees find shelter in tents<br>&copy;
  • Nothing left of the largest Pentecostal church in Asendabo<br>&copy;
  • Mayor Teshome speaks at peace meeting<br>&copy;
  • Hundreds of citizens attend peace meeting<br>&copy;


dawit Abraham 12 January 2012 - 10:02pm / AUSTRlian

please gays!came dawon end dicass abut it,jessas him salfi what hi say? he saylove iche ather,if you now your brathar ,you now me,if he dot no you brather, evin you dot no me, so give them love saimle love, becouse as we now love.jeses he deay for all people for all wold for musilm for cristn budsit for endo for all. you now that? jasit shoow tham love of god don't worry! jasite preay god you he can solive aur porobelame give for GOD him the one criatte eviriting him the one solivare. think you! my god blss you. matiwose 7;7

beshir 13 April 2011 - 12:35pm / ETHIOPIA


Roman Catholic Man 11 May 2011 - 10:52pm / USA

Two commandments from the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ- "You shall love The Lord, your God, with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength, and all your soul." "You shall love your neighbor as your self."

There is a war coming soon - plans are being made right now by the aggressor - IRAN. Not against the USA, against fellow Arabs, against their own Islamic brothers, Sunni Muslims. Shiites killing Sunnis.

Stop killing all those who don't believe exactly what you believe. Indeed, God Is Great. But the blood of the innocents cries to Heaven for vengeance. The Day of Judgement will be upon all soon.

Anonymous 26 March 2011 - 3:05am / U.S.A

Whether Christian or Muslim, God is all Knowing and Almighty God does not need any help from his creation to defend Him. Terrorism, in the name of religion, is a product of human invention to devide and conquer God's people for the benefit of the few who preach the " defender of the Faith" concept. Killing to defend a religion is the biggest lie perpetrated by those who could not defend themselves because their cuases for their fight are indefensible. Those who advocate vengeance to defend their faith are hiding behind te shroud of religion to profit from the carnage. Go burn churches and mosques to satisfy your sense of false bravado. While doing so, be prepare to face the truth...God's own truth which shades light on the lies you have perpetrated and as a result killed innocent people. in the mean time We will all pray for you redemption and safe return of your sanity.

Boyd Henegar 25 March 2011 - 8:48pm

I will sincerely say you put together a number of excellent points and I will publish a number of creative ideas to add in briefly.

Anonymous 23 March 2011 - 12:52am / ethiopia

hizbe krstian orthodox/lelochim, angetachihun kena argu, tesfachu eyekerebe alem hulu yemihonuwn astewlu. lederesebachu sidet enem abreachu tekafay negn, egziabher fetno yigobegnachual, getta leyandandu endesraw bidiratun yimellisal.amen.

Anonymous 21 March 2011 - 8:22am

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you. Deuteronomy 3:22

Mike H. 21 March 2011 - 7:46am / US


Anonymous 21 March 2011 - 7:08am / australia

I know that it is the Christian ideal to be non-violent and to turn the other cheek, but if these people don't fight for their God given rights, then they deserve what they get. Please, get a spine and fight these muslim thugs!

Anonymous 21 March 2011 - 8:23am

You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you Deuteronomy 3:22 The battle belongs to the Lord! Vengence is HIS and His alone.

Anonymous 20 March 2011 - 5:12pm

How the heck is this "not religious"???? The mayor is a goof!

Anonymous 20 March 2011 - 4:35pm / USA

The religon of peace, perfection, democracy and tolerance attacks again.

Anonymous 20 March 2011 - 2:05pm

Whaddya say you arm yourselves and fight to defend your people and land, instead of turning tail? Don't ya know that the weak always perish?

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