Hailu Adugna, Oromia Communication Bureau head (Photo:Oromia Communication Bureau/Facebook)
Addis Abeba – The Oromia regional government said it is carrying out a campaign of demolishing “illegal buildings” in more than 600 cities across the region, and defended the process as “constitutional and legal”.
In a presser on Wednesday, head of the regional Communication Bureau, Hailu Adugna said the campaign is not limited to Shaggar city and Mosques are not the only target as opposed to “false and politically tuned propaganda” waged by “organized internal and external extremists who work under the guise of religion”.
He noted that the process of demolishing illegal buildings has been carried out with “utmost care”, in consultation with concerned bodies and with an ultimatum given to owners to demolish themselves first. He added that the demolition has been “carried out in a uniform, transparent and legal manner”.
As such, he urged the Muslim community to stand against the conspiracy of extremists who are disseminating false propaganda under the guise of religion, pretending that the government is specifically targeting Mosques.
Recounting the government’s cooperation with religious institutions in the past, and reiterating commitment to work together on regional and national issues in the future, Hailu expressed the government’s openness to resolve any problems encountered in the implementation of the campaign through dialogue.
The statement comes days after at least two civilians were killed and more than 40 people, including police officers and different police backup forces, suffered minor and serious injuries during a crackdown against Muslim protesters in and around the Grand Anuwar Mosque in the capital Addis Abeba on Friday afternoon. The protests broke out against the demolition of Mosques in Shaggar city.
On 23 May the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of the Oromia Regional State said 19 Mosques were illegally demolished in Shaggar city alone & urged the regional government to immediately stop the demolitions and return to resolving the problem through dialogue. Earlier, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs of Ethiopia has sent a letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeking an end to the demolitions and a solution to the problem.
Shaggar city, which incorporated 12 sub-cities and 36 districts formerly under the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne, embarked on controversial campaign of demolishing houses built without any construction licenses shortly after its official establishment in March, 2023. AS