Ethiopia jails 20 Muslims accused of pursuing Sharia state
By Elias Meseret/AP
( The Washington Post) –ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — An Ethiopian court has sentenced 20 Muslims to prison after they were found guilty of trying to establish a state ruled by Sharia law and inciting violence.
They were charged under Ethiopia’s controversial anti-terrorism law and convicted last month. All but one received prison terms of five and a half years. Two were journalists working for a Muslim radio station.
The state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate, citing the court ruling, said Tuesday that the 20 defendants also were found to be “participating in a movement to secure the release of another Muslim group that was under detention.”
Muslims have long felt marginalized in Ethiopia and have carried out a number of protests since 2011. Some were met with force, and many protest leaders were jailed.
“The defendants didn’t get a fair trial. In fact, we didn’t expect the court to give a fair verdict,” Mustafa Safi, the defendants’ lawyer, told The Associated Press. “They were subjected to both a mistrial and a bad treatment at the infamous Kilinto detention center. They were even unable to pray there. But we will appeal the sentencing anyway.”
Ethiopia, a strong security ally of the West, is often accused of stifling dissent and jailing opposition groups and critical journalists. The country is currently under a state of emergency declared in October following widespread anti-government protests demanding greater political freedoms.