Ethiopia’s social media blocked amid church split tensions


NAIROBI, Kenya — Widespread tensions over a rift in the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian church have resulted in the suspension of access to social media platforms including TikTok, Facebook and Telegram.

Internet observatory NetBlocks confirmed social media platforms have been “restricted in Ethiopia amid anti-government protests” since Thursday night.

The church, which recently denounced a sectarian group in the country’s largest region as “illegal,” has accused the Ethiopian government of meddling in its affairs. It has threatened to continue with a protest on Sunday despite government warnings. Social media users have urged church followers to join.

The split in the church, followed by the majority of Ethiopia’s more than 110 million people, occurred after church members in Oromia announced a new council on January 22, declaring the need for the practice. their faith in the local language. The church removed several church officials who were involved in the split.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called on church members to resolve their disagreements and said the government would not get involved. But many church followers are accusing the prime minister, an ethnic Oromo and a Protestant, of vandalizing the church and siding with the secession synod.

On Friday, the church said negotiations were ongoing between Abiy and the church patriarch over the controversy that has engulfed many parts of the country.

Earlier in the week, several dozen cities and towns, mainly in Oromia and the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, saw sometimes violent protests.

On Friday, the government-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said at least eight people were killed by security forces in Shaashamane in the Oromia region on Saturday. It said many people were arrested.

The government in a statement on Thursday accused unnamed groups of aiming to “shake the government with armed violence”. It said the government has begun to bring to justice (people) who are involved in the movement.


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