Here is my view on my country and Islam, and the bad influence of Saudi Arabia.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have had deep historical roots in Ethiopia.
If we take Islam, for instance, we could say that Ethiopians have been associated with it from the very beginning of Muslim history.
The much needed protection that the Ethiopians provided to the early followers of the Prophet Muhammed, and their refusal to hand them over to their enemies, as well as the logistical support they made available to the Prophet, occupy a special place in the history of Islam. Moreover, Umm Ayman, the Prophet Muhammad’s wet nurse, Bilal ibn Rabah, the first Muezzin who called Muslims to prayer, Caliph Omar al-Khattab’s mother, as well as Amir ibn al-As, who conquered Egypt in 640 A.D., and Abu Bakra, who led the siege on Taif, and many others, were all Ethiopians.
It should be noted also that the great majority of Ethiopian Muslims are followers of Sunni Islam. Since there is religious tolerance in the country, Ethiopians have managed to escape destructive religious conflicts, which have become prevalent in many parts of the world. Lately, however, there has been a new development in the country, which, unless timely measures are taken to check it, could ultimately be a destabilizing factor in the region. This destabilizing factor, which, next to oil, has become the major export item of Saudi Arabia – is called Wahabism.
As the whole world knows, Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist state. The type of Islam that it preaches and practices is not Sunni Islam that we have lived with for centuries in Ethiopia, and that has become an integral part of our culture and history, but Wahabism – a terrorist and violent form of Islam, that is responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocent lives throughout the world. Despite this, hundreds of mosques have been built in Ethiopia in the past with Saudi finance with all the paraphernalia of madrassas – supposedly Muslim religious seminaries where students seat cross-legged on the floor to memorize the Koran.
But in actual fact, madrassas are brain washing sessions and jihad factories nurturing potential bin Ladens, where students are taught not to live under “infidels”, and to hate Christians and Jews as a matter of religious duty. All the Saudi financed Mullahs- the directors of the madrassas are anti-American, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish. Why people should be taught to hate other people is beyond me. Nevertheless, planting the seeds of hatred in the minds of our youth goes contrary to our cultural values and principles.
After the madrassas, innocent Ethiopian kids are taken to various countries in the Middle East for military training, and then return home to participate in the meticulously planned and widely coordinated jihad. So far, some 5,000 have already been trained. Incidentally, Shiite Iran is an active participant in this international brigandage. Since such activities have serious implications to the independence, peace and security of the country, we need to bring an end to it, before it takes deep roots.
The Saudis claim that Wahabism is a religion of peace and tolerance. But the truth is, what they say is a ridiculous fiction that is not borne by facts. The history of Wahabism has been a history of jihad, plunder, conquest, intolerance and violence. One has only to read the history of Wahabism and to investigate what its followers like Bin Laden are doing throughout the world. Their cruelty and barbarism, and their lies and hypocrisy, know no bounds.
Historically, Wahabism is associated with the removal of head stones from the graves of the members of the family of the Prophet Muhammed, and the desecration of Sheite shrines in Najaz and Karbala in Iraq, and the struggle for power in what was yet to become Saudi Arabia. Once its followers took power, they did whatever they could to destroy Ethiopia. Every Ethiopian knows this. For example, the secessionist war in Eritrea (1958-1991), which was designed to make Ethiopia land-locked, was largely financed by Saudi Arabia. Likewise, Saudi finance made it possible for Somalia to invade Ethiopia in 1977- 1978. The Saudi authorities may deny this, but it is widely documented. The western world is just waking up to the truth and reality of Wahabism. But Ethiopians have known it for too long. Nothing has changed, not even their irrationality. But then, one should not expect anything rational from 1,500 princes who multiply from within. Rational things can only be discussed with rational people. Despite what our country had done to save Islam from extinction, our fate became provocation, subversion, terrorism, out right aggression and economic blockade, as a way of expressing their “gratitude” to us. Let us note that these horrendous acts of barbarism have all been done against Ethiopia, in violation of the teachings and instructions of the Prophet Muhammad. Yet, they call themselves followers of the Prophet, and “custodians of the Holy Places of Islam.”
They wanted to covert us to Wahabism against our will, and we fiercely resisted them, for which they have never excused us. The Wahabists know that they will never defeat Ethiopia militarily. Since they recognize that their aggression will be fiercely resisted by the people of Ethiopia, they have now changed their tactics and want to conquer us through deceit, or so they hope, without even firing a single bullet.
Mentioning the 1974 mass rally in Addis Ababa might help the Saudis to understand how Ethiopian Muslims and Christians relate with one another. In 1974, thousands of Ethiopian Christians joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in a demonstration in Addis Ababa, demanding equality between the two religions – something which cannot even be conceived in Saudi Arabia, or anywhere in the Arab world. One cannot, for example, imagine Egyptian Muslims demonstrating in the streets of Cairo supporting the rights of the Copts of Egypt, and still less, demanding for equality between Christians and Muslims in that country.
For Wahabists, a secular state like Ethiopia that strives to create the conditions where Christians and Muslims live in peace and equality is not acceptable. Why? Because Wahabism is a religion of power. Its adherents believe that they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to lord every nation on earth, and to force the rest of mankind to submit to them. To that end, they use the Jihad to overthrow the system of any non-Muslim country in order to establish Wahabi authority. Hence, the individual has no right to have a religion of his choice. Because of such a mind set, wherever they are, Wahabists are at war against non-Wahabists.
Wahabists do not allow Christians to build churches in Saudi Arabia. Why? Because to borrow their own language, the “infidels” will be “polluting” the “Holy soil” of Islam. Why then should they be allowed to build their mosques in the Christian world? King Faisal once requested the permission of Emperor Haile Selassie to let Saudi Arabia build mosques in Ethiopia. The emperor’s reply was, “yes, why not. But in return, Ethiopia should be permitted to build churches in Mecca, Medina and Nadjiran – places with which Ethiopians have historic ties.” There and then, Faisal dropped the subject and the matter was never raised again. Had they raised the same question to President Mengistu Haile Mariam, no doubt, his reply would have been equally appropriate.
Saudi Arabia wants a free ride. It takes advantage of opportunities offered by liberal democratic societies to spread its poisonous Wahabism in the USA, Europe, Africa, and elsewhere by building mosques. Yet, American, European, and African missionaries will not be permitted to build churches in Saudi Arabia. As far as Riyadh is concerned, life is a one-way street. There is no reciprocity, and no competition in ideas, and there will be none.
One would have hoped that religion was a struggle to win the hearts and minds of individuals, but not for Saudi Arabia. Its religion is an instrument for subversion, domination and colonization. For example, by taking advantage of the unfortunate economic conditions of the downtrodden Ethiopian masses, the Saudi Embassy in Addis Ababa is busy bribing people to convert to Islam.
The usual amount that they pay is 5,000 birr, which is some $600 A friend of mine who attends school in San Francisco went home for vacation to Ethiopia and returned to California a couple of weeks ago. Among other things, here is what he told me:
“I drove from Addis Ababa to Asebe Teferie, a distance of 350 kms (217miles). Where there were only two or three mosques in the past, now, I could see more than one hundred mosques. Then, I returned back and drove from Addis Ababa to Shashimene, a distance of some 250 kms (155 miles), again to see another 130 brand new mosques. At the end of each trip, I made it a point to ask, “ Who built the mosques?” Invariably, the answer was the same – Saudi Arabia. Then he asked me, “what do this people want? What is their secret agenda?” I said to him, “the agenda is no longer secret. Saudi Arabia’s Wahabism is exploiting the poverty of our people and spreading its ugly tentacles to take over Ethiopia.”
However, the question is: who opened the doors of Ethiopia to Wahabism? Who authorized Saudi Arabia to do what it is doing today in Addis Ababa, and in the provinces of Shoa, Wollo, Gondar, Arusi, Wollega, Jimma, Harar, Sidamo, and indeed in the entire south? How much bribe did the Saudis have to pay to the corrupt and criminal authorities, who were brought to power with Saudi finance? What is even more surprising is that they wanted to build a mosque in Axum – a city where hardly any Muslims live. By opening Ethiopia’s doors to Wahabists, the ruling clique in Ethiopia has been collaborating with international terrorists.
Saudi Arabia is governed by an absolute monarchy. It has no constitution. No political parties and trade unions are permitted to function. Public floggings and amputations are common. The subjugation of women in that country is so mind-boggling, that they are not even permitted to drive cars.
In contrast, Ethiopia is a country where a socialist revolution took place, which Saudi Arabia did everything in its power to subvert, abort and destabilize by paying millions of dollars (1974-1991), and where a series of political, cultural, and social revolutions continue to be carried out. There are hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian liberals, democrats, republicans, socialists, constitutional monarchists, social democrats and Marxists, organized in some twenty political parties competing for power. If the Saudi authorities have been wrongly informed by their agents about the reality in Ethiopia, then they should check their facts. Unlike the unfortunate Saudi women, Ethiopian women have always been equal to men. In the past, they served their country as heads of state and government, and even led armies in battle. Today, Ethiopian women serve as air force fighters and bomber pilots, tank commanders, parliamentarians, ambassadors, university professors, medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists, and so on. They compete in world Olympics and win gold or silver medals. We have every intention to intensify the democratization process in our country. Our present economic difficulties, which would surely pass, cannot be exploited by Wahabists to distort and to pervert our cultural values. Saudi Arabia will be strongly advised to keep its hands off Ethiopia. We did not struggle against every conceivable colonialist and imperialist power in the past, and to come thus far, only to succumb to Saudi Arabian Wahabism. That would be an insult to our history and culture. The system that prevails in Saudi Arabia may be good for Saudi Arabia, but not for Ethiopia. We find it offensive to human freedom and dignity. It is absolutely unacceptable to our way of life. Wahabism has no place in our society. The sooner the ruling circles in Saudi Arabia realize this fact and leave us alone, the better.
The Wahabi threat to Ethiopia and to the world should be a matter of serious concern to the international community. Wahabism should not be permitted to play with fire. If the present trend is allowed to continue, it will have serious consequences for international peace and security. It will lead into an endless civil war in the country between Wahabists and Christians, and between Sunnis and Wahabists, and engulf the whole of Africa in turmoil. All this calls for a systematic and thorough investigation.
This article was first published September 26, 2003 on Ethiomedia.com
Watch here how women in Saudi Arabia are ignored.