In August clashes broke out in the West Arsi Zone of the Oromia region between police and Muslim protesters demanding the release of three imams who had been detained. State media reported that three armed demonstrators were killed and seven police were injured.
Citing national security concerns, the Federal High Court in January closed the trial of 29 Muslims charged under the ATP to the press, public, and diplomatic community. Of these persons, the authorities identified 28 as members and organizers of the Muslim protest movement, and accused an additional person of accepting funds illegally from a foreign embassy. The Federal High Court dismissed charges against 10 of the defendants and reduced charges against 18 others on December 12. In April prosecutors charged 28 additional Muslims under the ATP for suspected links to al-Qaida and al-Shabaab. Trial proceedings were temporarily closed to the public in July after prosecution witnesses expressed concerns about their personal safety and legal proceedings were re-opened on October 29. On August 8, security forces detained more than 1,000 persons in Addis Ababa during Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. Some Muslims carried banners during the event calling on the government to respect the constitution and release Muslim prisoners. Most detainees were soon released. On August 2, police detained Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed, editors at the Muslim-affiliated Radio Bilal. They were later released.
There were periodic reports throughout the year that police carried out nighttime raids of Muslim homes in Addis Ababa to collect evidence against alleged terrorists. The government claimed the police had warrants for the searches in accordance with Ethiopian law.
Some Muslims continued to state there was government interference in Islamic affairs. The government ended a training program advocating the Islamic movement known as al-Ahbash, founded in Lebanon by an Ethiopian scholar. Many Muslim critics had charged that the program was a government-led effort to impose a foreign religious movement.
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 or the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC) to re-register every year, unlike other religious groups. Members of some religious groups stated this represented a double standard.
The government continued to give some religious groups use of government land for churches, schools, hospitals, and cemeteries without charge.
Protestants privately alleged unequal treatment by local officials when compared to the EOC and the EIASC with regard to seeking land for churches and cemeteries. The Ministry of Federal Affairs, which has general oversight responsibility for religious affairs in the country, stated that the perceived inequities were 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 Ethiopia’s oldest and most sacred Orthodox Christian churches, Muslims continued to report difficulty in gaining permission from local authorities to build mosques. Protestants in the Oromia Region reported an inability to construct 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.
Some religious groups undertaking development activities were required to register their development arms as charities with the Charities and Societies Agency and follow legal guidelines.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs, EIASC, and civil society groups attempted to address the potential for sectarian violence through workshops and training of religious leaders, elders, and influential community members.