CAIRO - At least four Muslims were shot dead when Ethiopian security forces stormed into a mosque in the capital Addis Ababa to disrupt preparations for a city-wide program called Sadaqa (feast).
Sources told OnIslam.net that Ethiopian federal police stormed the Awolia mosque compound late Friday, July 13, and attacked Muslim volunteers inside.
Sources said security forces fired teargas and beat Muslims gathering inside the building.
At least four people were reportedly killed in the attack, while several others were seriously injured.
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The volunteers were preparing for food and drinks for a city-wide program called Sadaqa (feast) on Sunday, July 15.
Witnesses also confirmed the brutal police attack on Muslims inside the mosque.
"They broke the door and entered and started shooting at Muslims, Ahmedin Jebel, representing a mosque community group, told Bloomberg.
Many were attacked and they arrested almost all of those there.
After a call to prayers, Muslims who gathered in response to the incident were involved in further clashes, he said.
Police closed all roads leading to Awolia from all directions.
Thousands of Ethiopian Muslims streamed toward the capital's largest mosque on Saturday in response to distress calls that were heard from minarets throughout Friday night following the police attack.
Ahmedin said thousands of Muslims gathered at the mosque in the Mercato area to demand the release of all those arrested.
Friday's attack follows the arrest of two members of a committee elected by Ethiopian Muslims to formally voice protests of Muslims against government's interference in their religious affairs.
In April, four Muslims were killed in clashes with police in southern Ethiopia in protest at the arrest of a Muslim preacher.
Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, is home to 60 percent Christian and about 34 percent Muslim, according to CIA Factbook.
Several feasts of unity have been organized across Ethiopia.
The feasts of unity are seen as a practical response to the government's attempt to divide the Muslim population along sectarian lines, accusing some Salafi Muslims of extremist tendency.
Awolia is the center of Muslim protests against attempts by the Ethiopian government to interfere in their religious affairs.
Muslims say the government is spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs to indoctrinate their community with the ideology of a sect called "Ahbash".
The government of Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi has put the Ahbash in charge of the religious affairs of Ethiopia's Muslims.
Muslims say the government move is in violation of the constitution, which prevents the government interference in religious affairs.
Muslims also accuse the Ahbash of launching an "indoctrination program" in predominantly Muslim areas, forcing people to attend "religious training" camps or risk police interrogation and possible arrest.
Founded by Ethiopian-Lebanese scholar Sheikh Abdullah al-Harari, Ahbash is seen by the West as a "friendly alternative" to Wahabi ideology, which the West sees as extreme and militant.Muslims say Ahbash imams are being brought over from Lebanon to fill the Majlis and teach Ethiopians that Wahabis are non-Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net