Ethiopian Christians took to the streets Sunday in a mass protest against the burning of churches and attacks on worshipers around the country.
Since last July, 30 churches have been attacked, while almost 100 worshipers have been killed. Ethiopian Orthodox church leaders met with government officials earlier this month to discuss how Christians could be better secured against an uptick in ethnic and political violence. The protests this week followed a slate of protests that took place in several cities last Sunday in Ethiopia.
The protesters, who may have numbered in the millions and consisted mostly of Amhara Christians, marched in 43 cities and called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration to protect Christians and their churches, according to Tewodrose Tirfe, chairman of the Amhara Association of America. The Amhara are an ethnic group in Ethiopia accounting for roughly a quarter of the population and are mostly Christian, although some Amhara Muslims marched in solidarity with the Christians during Sunday’s protests.
The protests were organized by committees affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in each city where they took place. Marches were banned in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and in the Oromia Region. Media networks owned by the government reportedly did not televise either this week’s or last week’s protests.
The marches come as ethnic and political strife have increased in Ethiopia over the past year, as reforms implemented by Abiy’s government have resurfaced old grievances among Ethiopians, many of which are now being addressed through violence.
Abiy’s government has left many disputes to local authorities, even though they are often partisans within the disputes. In addition, neither the protests nor meetings with Ethiopian Orthodox officials have produced a plan to address church burnings.