By RFIPalled on 28-09-2019Modified on 28-09-2019 at 18:07
This weekend, Christians in Ethiopia are celebrating Meskel, commemorating the discovery of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. This year, the atmosphere was not totally relaxed. Ethiopian Christians have expressed concerns about the attacks they claim to be victims of.
According to an activist from an American-Ethiopian diaspora association, some 30 Orthodox churches have been burned since July 2018. Priests and civilians have been killed and people forcibly displaced. These acts took place in different parts of the country and increased the feeling of insecurity among Orthodox Christians.
On September 27, Meskel Square ("place of the cross") in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the Patriarch of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, called for an end to the violence. Meskel commemorates the discovery of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. According to tradition, this discovery took place in the fourth century AD by St. Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine.
The celebrations began on the evening of Friday 27 September in Addis Ababa with the lighting of a large fire on Meskel Square, then smaller ones in each neighborhood. They continued the next day as a family. According to the local press, which quotes the police, 55 people were arrested on the sidelines of this festival, including a dozen for carrying sharp weapons.
In recent weeks, human tides have swept through major cities in the Amhara region to demand that the federal government protect the places of worship and punish the violators, who have few elements.
This fear displayed Christians and these processions take in any case a political turn. They are part of the Amhara-Oromo rivalry as the elections draw near. The historical link between Orthodox religion and Amhara ethnicity resurfaced.
In early September, an orthodox Oromo priest threatened to create his own religious structure. He calls for a better integration of the Oromos in the Church, especially in terms of liturgical language. " The desires of divisions are destructive, " said Patriarch Abune Mathias.
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