Social media restricted in Ethiopia as church rift turns violent | Social media news

Three church officials declared them archbishops last month, leading to protests that have killed at least 30 people.

Internet watchdog NetBlocks says access to social media platforms has been restricted in Ethiopia following violent protests caused by a rift in the country’s Orthodox Church.

Protests erupted in the Oromia region when three church officials declared themselves archbishops last month and established their own governing body. Some protesters opposed their move while others supported it.

Access to Facebook, Messenger, TikTok and Telegram has been severely restricted, NetBlocks said on Twitter late Thursday, citing network data it has collected.

The tweet comes hours after the church said at least 30 people have been killed in protests since February 4.

The church’s statement called for Sunday’s protests against the new governing body, which accused the Ethiopian government of “interference” in the internal affairs of the church after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed asked its ministers to he stayed out of the dispute.

The state of Ethiopia has traditionally maintained a close relationship with the Orthodox Church, to which more than 40% of the population belongs.

Government spokeswoman Legesse Tulu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. The government said in a statement on Thursday that the upcoming rally had been banned to prevent violence.

Ethiopian authorities have previously closed or restricted Internet access during times of political turmoil, including in response to protests in 2020 following the murder of a popular singer from Oromia.

Internet and telephone communications were also cut in the northern Tigray region for much of the two-year war that ended with a ceasefire in November.

The Orthodox Church insisted Sunday’s protest would continue and said the government’s ban constitutes “a declaration to destroy the church once and for all”.

Oromia, home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, has experienced violent conflict for years, part of broader unrest in Ethiopia, a multi-ethnic country where power has long been in power. has been disputed between the federal and regional governments.


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