April 22, 2015 (GMN) - For quite some time now, we have been made to witness the horrific ritual of beheading of journalists and relief workers, indiscriminate murders of innocent civilians, and the destruction and desecration of religious and historical sites by the insidious group calling itself Islamic State.
This medieval barbarism is shocking to a point, but is nipped in the bud and assumed a semblance almost of unreality. It was only two weeks ago the world watched in horror as Al-Shabab thugs running through the halls of Garissa University in Kenya murdering students, which led to the massacre of more than 147. So while we are still in mourning for the victims of Garissa - this happens.
I will be candid I was grossed out by the heinous action of Al-Shabab. But the murder of my brothers (Ethiopians and apparently some Eritreans) in Libya by the IS brigade in unambiguously revolting manner hit me hard with a vicious emotional punch.
The sad part is, in both cases the obvious and strong reason for these abominable crimes is the sheer religious faith of the victims: Christianity.
In both cases the perpetrators are as terrorists go, professional criminals, suicidal, well armed and evidently connected to groups that have imposed a discipline or tactical cunning on their followers. I am talking about IS and Al-Shabab of course, groups who use Islam to justify their atrocities.
While it is no consolation for the victims and those close to them, and the whole country is rightly outraged, these people with criminally diseased mind don’t represent Islam or Muslims. Their actions are antithesis to the religion.
It is worth noting the vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and terrorism. Muslim leaders and Islamic scholars all over the world have in no uncertain terms condemned any kind of terrorism, but mostly the ones under the guise of Islam.
Islam is not the reason for the vile acts of IS or Al-Shabab. Their use of religious reference is merely a cover used to incite followers, to do their bidding and gain sympathy from the less-informed Muslims.
And remember, all religions have homicidal lunatics in their followers, and usually when they go over the top they plan crimes that enable them to kill in sequence or a bunch of victims.
Notwithstanding, the people who murdered our brothers in Libya don’t know Islam or are misguided souls who don’t properly know how to interpret the holy Quran. After all, a true Muslim knows Ethiopia’s role in the early days Islam.
During Islam’s genesis its followers were subjected to persistence campaign of terror by the believers of traditional deity [pagans]. As a temporary relief of suffering Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, directed some of his followers to migrate to Abyssinia [Ethiopia]. He assure them [his followers and relatives], that they will be protected by the Christian Negus [king], one “that would do no wrong to those who live in his kingdom”.
The prophet was talking none other than King Al-Ashama [Al-Negashi], who was the ruler of Abyssinia, who many believe had played an important role in safeguarding the then budding religion of Islam.
It is believed the prophet sent a message to the king along with his followers and relatives including his daughter Ruqayyah. The message reads “… I have dispatched my cousin, Ja’far with a group of Muslims to you. Do be generous towards them and give up haughtiness”.
King Al-Ashama heeded the prophet’s message and was gracious to the followers. Upon their arrival he accorded them a warm well come.
Shortly after the arrival of the prophet’s followers in Abyssinia; the Quraysh [enemies of the prophet] approach the king with a ship-load of expensive gifts. They then ask the king to hand them the followers of Mohammed whom they referred to “foolish rebels and apostates”.
In a rejection of the Quraysh’s request King Al-Ashama said “No, by God, I will not surrender them. No people who have sought my protection settle in my country… shall be betrayed… I will protect them, and see that they receive proper hospitality while under my protection.”
Indeed the followers of Islam were treated with curtsey and honor in Abyssinia. They stayed there until it was safe for them to return to Arabia. During their stay, at the king’s request they thought him all about Islam and he [the King] eventually embraced the new religion and assumed the name Ahmed Al-Negashi [Ahmed the king] - becoming the first Muslim king ever.
Meantime, although they have not seen each other, the Prophet and the King have built a very close and harmonious relationship. So harmonious in fact, the Prophet had asked the King to stand witness to his second marriage.
Eventually the Prophet invited the King to come to Mecca, to which the King accept gratefully. Unfortunately Al-Negashi died before he could make the pilgrimage to Mecca and meet the Prophet.
Upon hearing Al-Negashi’s death Prophet Mohammed , blessing and peace be upon him, was very much touched and told his followers “I am saddened to hear the passing of the most benevolent of all men” and offered the funeral prayer for the king.
So, listen up you IS thugs! The men you just murdered are the children of Ahmed Al-Negashi.
As you can see the relationship between Ethiopia and Islam is ancient and transcendental. Muslims and Islam have co-existed with Christianity and Christians peacefully for centuries.
Ethiopia is a predominantly christen-Islamic nation and civilization that tolerates all faiths, cultures and tendencies. Nobody is going to take that away from us, not IS, Al-Shabab or their sympathizers.
Nevertheless, there are lessons we should take from this horrible incident. First it is a demonstration of the vulnerability of our people in the Middle East and North Africa to such violent extremists and also a confirmation of how evil these terrorists are.
Another lesson is, obviously, security will have to be tightened nationwide. Our forces should be more vigilant and everyone, without succumbing to paranoia or a culture of denunciation should be more watchful.
The greatest potential threat to the country is from terrorists based outside our borders. This people are trained thoroughly, armed heavily, and whose adherents are often happy to go down for the cause, if that will maximize the massacre of innocents.
Ethiopian security forces don’t need to be told this, but they certainly must be more careful than they have ever needed to be before to monitor and detect attempts to infiltrate the country by terrorists, motivated by extremism and perverted politics.
These terrorist crimes corroborate how P.M Hailemariam and his government have been to align Ethiopia along all peace loving nations against agents of global, regional or indigenous terror and their sponsors.
I hope not to hear any sniveling and waffling to the effect all would be well if we just practiced neutrality between terrorists and their opponents closer to the epicenter of these events, especially in our region.
There must be no ambiguity about where Ethiopia stands, and we can assume the leaders of the legal opposition are just as appalled at the crimes as the government is and any attempt to turn the tragedy in to an election issue would not be acceptable.
In dealing with the blood-curdling terrorists, the government must maintain high standards of international law and domestic justice, but brand them as evil and reply to them with overwhelming force.
It should listen to no more of these effete complaints by the Western special interest groups, “human right violation”, “excessive force”, silencing the opposition”,” muzzling free press”, etc.
The terrorists who wish to kill and die must be pre-emptily accommodated. Remember silence and inaction is complicity.
God bless the souls of our brothers!