Over the last few days, several thousand Muslims across Ethiopia protested the burning of four mosques in the Amhara region. The Dec. 20 attacks in Motta town also targeted Muslim-owned businesses. Muslims have called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called the attacks "attempts by extremists to break down our rich history of religious tolerance and coexistence." Recent ethnic-based unrest in some parts of the country has at times taken religious form.
Prominent Muslim scholar Kamil Shemsu on Tuesday told The Associated Press there are "political actors who want to pit one religious group against another" and blamed the negative role of activists and videos circulated online.
Amhara regional officials said they have arrested 15 suspects in connection with the attacks. Police commander Jemal Mekonnen told state media the attacks appeared to be triggered by news of a fire that broke out in an Orthodox church a few days earlier. Regional officials were criticized for their slow response and their inability to stop similar attacks. Many communities across Ethiopia have seen demonstrations including the capital, Addis Ababa.
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