There were reports of abuses of religious freedom, including reports of killings, imprisonment, and detention.
In April police in Oromia Region entered a mosque after Friday prayers and arrested a preacher for allegedly “trying to instigate jihad.” After a crowd tried to intervene, police opened fire, killing four people. There were no reports that anyone filed charges against either the preacher or the police.
In late July authorities detained as many as 1,000 Muslim demonstrators, including members of a self-appointed committee claiming to represent the interests of the Muslim community, for protesting alleged government interference in religious affairs. The government quickly released the majority without charge. On October 29, authorities charged 29 persons under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The authorities identified 28 arrestees as members of the protest movement, and accused one of accepting funds illegally from the Saudi Arabian embassy.
Police allegedly detained Muslims on occasion without cause and released them shortly afterward without charge. The government denied such reports.
Some Muslims alleged that a training program jointly administered by the government and the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) constituted government interference in Islamic affairs. A majority of Ethiopian Muslims reportedly saw the program as a government-led attempt to impose a foreign religious philosophy known as “al-Ahbash.” Protests against the program continued throughout the year. In response, the government agreed to permit Muslims to elect new leadership for the EIASC. Some Muslims objected to the plan to hold the vote in government facilities, and called for voting to take place in mosques. The EIASC determined that voting in mosques would have excluded women and posed a security threat; many Muslims reportedly perceived this as a sign of additional government interference. The elections proceeded as planned in October. The press reported that the government attempted to force Muslim participation in the EIASC election process through intimidation. Some members of the Muslim community complained that this alleged interference violated the constitutional protection of religious freedom.
The government continued to ban Waka-Feta, a traditional animist Oromo religious group, due to a suspected relationship between group leaders and the banned Oromo Liberation Front.
There were reports of discrimination in registration and land allocation. The government did not require the EOC and the EIASC to reregister every year, unlike other religious groups. Members of some religious groups characterized this as a double standard.
Protestants privately alleged unequal treatment by local officials when seeking land for churches and cemeteries, compared to the EOC and the EIASC. The Ministry of Federal Affairs, which has general oversight responsibility for religious affairs in the country, characterized the perceived inequities as a result of poor governance at the local level and zoning regulations that determine a property’s proposed and existing communal use functions.
In Axum, the site of many of the country’sEthiopia’s oldest and most sacred Orthodox Christian churches, Muslims reported difficulty in gaining permission from local authorities to build new mosques. Protestants in the Oromia Region reported an inability to construct new churches in predominantly Muslim areas.
Some religious groups, mainly Protestant, continued to work through private and unofficial channels to seek the return of property confiscated between 1977 and 1991.