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Another Mosque Demolished in Ethiopia as Regional Government Denies Targeting Mosques

                            Hailu Adugna, Communication Head, Oromia Region
        
ADDIS ABABA – Oromia Regional Government said in a statement today that the demolishing of illegal housing taking place in the newly formed Shaggar City does not target Mosques. This statement came amid the destruction of another Mosque at Ajamba, at the outskirt of west Addis Ababa.

In the statement, the regional government stated that the demolishing of illegal houses is planned to take place around 600 cities in Oromia. "Some groups are painting as if the demolishing of illegal houses targets one single religion", said Hailu Adugna, Communication Office Head, Oromia region.

"When we are implementing this decision, many interest groups are disseminating information as if we are targeting one ethnicity and one religion. This is wrong.", said Hailu Adugna.

The Ethiopian Institute for the Ombudsman has reported that it has received over one hundred thousand complaints from individuals whose homes were destroyed by Shaggar City authorities. This begs the question as to why the Oromia regional government decided to punish the residents instead of holding government officials accountable. They were after all the ones who gave permission for the construction of these "illegal" houses.

Responding to the above question, the Head of the regional communication, said they are in the process of holding the government officials accountable.

It is not new to demolish houses in Ethiopia with claim that they are illegal. It happens a lot. What makes the demolitions in Shaggar City unique and worrisome is that houses and Mosques are being demolished without prior notice and without mercy. And the demolitions of houses as well as places of worship is by far the largest in scale in the history of the country. 

In a move to calm the angered Muslim community, the Oromia regional government said it will work closely with religious institutions but also warned Muslims not to be taken advantage of by interest groups who want to advance their political interests hiding behind religious pretense.

Last Friday, Muslims in Addis Ababa protested after their Friday Prayers demanding an end to the demolition of Mosques in Shaggar City. But the protesters were met with stern response from police who attempted to storm the Grand Anwar Mosque, the largest Mosque in Addis Ababa. As a result of the confrontation three were killed dozens were injured. Fears of yet another protest in the coming Friday loom large.

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