Mohammed Aman-Jemal, President, Muslim Affairs Supreme Council, Ethiopia, and hundreds of grieving relatives have condemned the beheading of two Ethiopians by Islamic State militants in Libya.
Aman-Jemal said on Wednesday in Addis Ababa that slayings committed by the terrorists in Libya are a shocking deed that stands contrary to the teachings of the Holy Koran.
The Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tadros Adhanom, said there were Ethiopians among the traffickers that set desperate migrants on dangerous journeys towards Europe.
“You traffickers have blood in your hands,” he said.
“Haven’t you had enough, don’t you have feelings for your fellow brothers and sisters,’’ he added.
Ethiopia’s House of Representatives also opened an emergency session with a minute’s silence, before voting to observe three days of national mourning and fly the Ethiopian flag at half mast from Wednesday.
Some lawmakers cited Islamic verses preaching tolerance and highlighted the centuries-long tradition of religious co-existence in a country.
They said the relationship between Ethiopia’s Christians and Muslims had long been relatively peaceful, but now becoming wary of the rising tide of radical Islam in the country.
The followers of both faiths recall a period in the 7th century when, according to tradition, groups of the Prophet Mohammad’s first followers, including his wife, fled persecution.
These groups found refuge in the Christian Axumite Empire, in the north of modern-day Ethiopia.
Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, called on all compatriots to maintain Ethiopia’s ancient tradition of unity, love and compassion.
Hundreds of grieving relatives gathered outside the homes of two Ethiopians, who were among dozens shown being shot and beheaded in a video purportedly made by Islamic State militants in Libya.
Ahaza Kasaye, mother of Eyasu Yekuno-Amlak, one of the victims, said only two of the 30 Ethiopian Christian prisoners displayed being killed in two groups by masked jihadists, in a video released over the weekend had been identified by name.
She said the pair was close friends who grew up as neighbours in the impoverished Cherkos District of the capital Addis Ababa.
“My son is gone, I cannot bear it because I am burning,’’ she said.
Kasaye said it was Eyasu’s dreadlocks that enabled his family and friends to quickly recognise him in a group of prisoners.
He said the group of prisoners were seen in the video trudging along a beach in orange jump suits before their captors beheaded them as they knelt on the ground.
Though the bodies of the prisoners had not been returned or recovered, mourners erected a tent and a priest delivered a sermon.
Wailing mourners held aloft pictures of both victims as dozens of others young men, who were both neighbours and friends of the two men briefly took to the streets.
They demonstrated in Addis Ababa’s main square before being dispersed by police.
Meanwhile, friends of Eyasu and Balcha said both did not have jobs and that they had been in Libya for two months before being killed by Islamic State.