At Least Two “Houses Used for Worship” Burned in Ethiopia Following Alleged Koran Desecration

ChristianNewsToday reports that there were many more attacks — “At least one Christian was killed and others injured when thousands of Islamic extremists set fire to 59 churches and at least 28 homes in western Ethiopia in the past five days, Christian leaders said,” with “More than 4,000 Christians … displaced as a result of attacks that began on Wednesday (March 2) after Muslims accused a Christian of desecrating the Quran by tearing up a copy, sources said.” Bloomberg News reports allegations of a smaller number of attacks (but that was as of Friday, while the ChristianNewsToday report is as of Monday). It also quotes “Ethiopian Communications Minister Bereket Simon” as acknowledging that two “houses used for worship” were burned, though stating that no-one has died and labeling it “a very minor, isolated incident.”

I don’t know where exactly the truth lies, but I thought I’d note it, especially since there seems to be confirmation of at least two burnings. If anyone has pointers to more stories, outside those from advocacy groups (of which there are quite a few, see here), please let me know. Of course, sometimes advocacy groups are right, and sometimes they are more reliable than ostensibly impartial media; but on balance, I prefer to see some confirmation from non-advocacy-group sources (such as the Bloomberg News story I mentioned). Thanks to Paul Marshall (National Review Online) for the pointer.

UPDATE: The Voice of America reports further developments (which I also noted in a separate post above):

Police in Ethiopia have arrested 130 people described as religious extremists in connection with a series of church burnings in a Muslim-majority area….

Ethiopian government spokesman Shimelis Kemal told VOA two Christians had been killed in the incidents. In a telephone interview, he said police reinforcements had moved in and restored order.

“In Jimma area, some extremists and some fundamentalists have instigated some people to burn a few prayer places, praying places, and this has been investigated by police and those who are suspected to have set fire on those churches have been apprehended,” he said.

Shimelis said 130 suspects had been charged with instigating religious hatred and violence.

One political activist working in Jimma, who asked not to be identified, quoted Muslim residents in the region as saying the attacks erupted after reports spread that a Christian had desecrated a Koran. That information could not be confirmed….

Moga Firisa, head of the opposition Oromo Federal Democratic Movement and a native of the region, said he was conducting his own investigation. He said the burnings had occurred over a period of several days beginning late last week….