CAIRO - A journalist's rights committee has blasted Ethiopian government over its recent crackdown on Islamic media and local journalists who have been covering the recent protests of the country's Muslim population.
Ethiopian authorities must release a journalist who has been detained for almost three weeks, and allow three Muslim news outlets to resume publishing immediately, Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday, August 10, Bikyamasr website reported.
The committee's calls followed the raid of eight police officers on the home of Yusuf Getachew, editor of YeMuslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs).
According to local journalists, Getachew was taken to the Maekelawi Federal Detention Center in the evening of July 20 in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The police also confiscated four of Yusuf's mobile phones, his wife's digital camera, books, and 6,000 birr (US$334), the same sources said.
Local journalists believe the Muslim press in Ethiopia is being targeted for its coverage of protests by the Muslim community.
Along with arrests, the Ethiopian government has blocked access to OnIslam.net and Aljazeera over their coverage of Muslim protests against government interference in their religious affairs.
There was no official statement from the government on the censorship.
Ethiopian Muslims have taken to the streets over the past weeks in protest at government interference in their religious affairs.
Ethiopian Muslims accuse the government of spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the umbrella Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (Majlis) 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.
Muslims make up about 34 percent of Ethiopia's population.