Two people were killed in Addis Ababa on Friday during a demonstration against the destruction of mosques as part of a huge project around the Ethiopian capital, a media network close to the government reported, citing police.
Clashes erupted in the vicinity of Anwar Mosque in the north of the Ethiopian capital, after Muslims took to the street after Friday prayers.
“Two people injured in disturbances in an area known as Gas Tira died after being taken to hospital for treatment,” wrote the website of the “Fanabesi” network.
The network added, quoting the police, that four demonstrators and 52 policemen were injured in the clashes.
A witness at the Anwar Mosque confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity that the worshipers shouted slogans hostile to the project of a large center called “Chigar City” and to the government.
“After Friday prayers, people started chanting slogans to stop the destruction of our mosques,” he said, explaining that “large security forces arrived and when they reached the gates of the mosque, people got angry and threw stones and shoes at them.”
He added that the policemen “then fired tear gas and bullets in the air.”
The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Addis Ababa called for the start of prosecutions, after it considered it an “unconstitutional and inhumane response” by the security forces against Muslims “who are peacefully defending their rights.”
Last year, the federal authorities and the Oromia region launched a controversial project called “Chigar City”, which involves merging six towns surrounding the capital into a wide western arc.
In this context, the authorities have been destroying for months a number of buildings, houses and mosques that they consider to be built illegally.
Opponents of the project condemn these operations, which they consider discriminatory and based, in their opinion, on ethnic criteria (against people who do not belong to the Oromo ethnicity) and religious (targeting mosques).
Ethiopia has a Christian majority, especially Orthodox, but Muslims constitute a majority in almost a third of the country.