Wednesday, January 03, 2007

21st century wars of religion

Red is the colour!, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Here we have some more 'Ethiopians', namely ethnic Somalis who live in Ethiopia on account of the way the British gave the Ogaden away to the Ethiopian emperor at the start of the 20th century.

Our local rag, Het Parool, had an interesting article about the Ethiopian aggression in Somalia talking about the Ethiopian government being dominated by the mainly Christian highlanders who oppress the 'conservative' Muslims of eastern Ethiopia (the Ogaden). Interesting that the journalist felt the need to use the word conservative to describe the Muslims, when the very same label could be attached to the highland Christians, hardly the most progressive people in the world.*

As it happens, the Ethiopian governemnt is not so much dominated by the highland Christians but a small clique from Tigray, the home of the warrior Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, who seems to be as much hated by the non-Tigrayan Christians as anyone lese in Ethiopia. He is just a warlord wearing the cloak of democracy (through organising patently unfair elections, killing dissidents and imprisoning most of the opposition of dubious charges of treason). But he is a very clever man and knows very well how to keep the Americans on his side, painting himself as a Christian bulwark in a land surrounded by militant and undemocratic, if not terrorist, Muslims.

For this, he is given assitance to further oppress his own people as well as encouragement to settle old scores in Somalia. What is easier nowadays to accuse someone or some organisation of having links with al-Qaeda? And if one offers to stand up and fight, well bingo!, help yourself to all the arms, intelligence and 'military 'training' you want. You become defender of western values, an ally in the American war on terror and, if you are lucky, you can even get the United Nations on your side. In this instance, the UN security council seemed not to bat an eye-lid when passing a resolution to stop the embargo on arms to Somalia and to approve of the stationing of foreign 'peace-keeping' troops in Somalia.

Tomorrow, I will have a look at how the entry of the Ethiopian army and its puppet Somali government has been reported in the various media.

* - Just thought I ought to mention that our other paper, the more intellectual NRC Handelsblad did actually describe the Muslims of Ethiopia as mainly liberal. Class just shows through. Cancel that parool subscription!

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