Ethiopian Unrest: A Chance for Radical Islam?

Thousands of Ethiopian Muslims gather for prayers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ethiopian Unrest: A Chance for Radical Islam?

Radical Islam thrives on domestic turmoil.

Ethiopian police gunned down at least 10 people on Thursday in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Protesters had blocked the main road into Ambo in a dispute over sugar shortages. Police used live rounds to disperse the crowd.

Eleven Oromos were killed a week prior in the same province. The bloodshed came in tit-for-tat violence with a neighboring region.

In recent years, tight authoritarian rule has kept uprisings from engulfing the nation. The heavy-handed government has also kept the outside world from seeing in too deeply.

But that tactic is not perfect. Violence does erupt and news reports do get out, drawing the ire of many humanitarian bodies.

The Trumpet has forecast that Ethiopia will soon face major social upheaval. Ongoing tensions between the 80 different ethnic groups could play a part in that unrest.

Almost 700 people were killed last year when Oromos protested a government development plan. Opponents of the initiative saw the plan as a land grab by the ruling powers.

The Oromos make up the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. Yet they feel their grievances are not heard by the ethnic minority government. Addis Ababa has promised to be inclusive of all ethnicities, but disputes have led to violence and mistrust in the provinces.

Martial law was imposed to quell last year’s bloodshed. It was lifted in August of this year. Then in September, 150,000 Oromos were displaced from the province of Somali.

The displacement occurred after Somali police had killed two Oromi officials. The Oromos responded by killing Somalis. The 150,000 Oromos were driven from the Somali province in retaliation. The expelled people now live in camps. The United States Embassy in Addis Ababa said in a September 19 statement that it was “disturbed by the troubling reports of ethnic violence and the large-scale displacement of people living along the border between the Oromia and Somali regions.”

There is 1,000 miles of borderland between the Oromia and Somali regions. Cross-border disputes go back to 2004 and the referendum that established the border. A crippling drought in Somali and paramilitary involvement in disputes have seen violence intensify.

An expert on Ethiopian ethnicity and identity, Fekadu Adugna, told the Washington Post, “What the conflict is doing is increasing the mistrust between the political parties.” He continued, “That mistrust can be a serious threat for the federal arrangement.”

Many see the central government as either turning a blind eye or unable to resolve the inter-province violence.

But unrest is not Ethiopia’s greatest concern. It is what grows in the unrest—Islamic extremism—that Ethiopia should be wary of.

A Growing Religion

Islam has existed in Ethiopia for centuries. Some of the first Muslims arrived from Mecca as refugees and were taken in by King Negus Ashama ibn Abjar. He ruled the kingdom of Axum—the land that is today part of modern Ethiopia—in the early seventh century.

According to the latest polls, 33 percent of Ethiopians identify as Muslim. In 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (eprd) took power. At that point Ethiopian Muslims started practicing their religion freely. As one commentator for the Addis Standard noted, “[G]aining the freedom to exercise their religion means Ethiopian Muslims are now sharply aware of their rights to exercise their faith.” Islamic schools are being built and hijabs and niqabs are worn in public.

Significantly, most Muslims live in Eastern and Southern Ethiopia—Oromo heartland. These areas tend to foster instability and mistrust for the government. And to the East is Somalia—where Wahhabism has flourished. It is no surprise that the Ethiopian government has made numerous incursions into Somalia to stamp out radical Islam. It has also uncovered Wahhabi plots to establish a kingdom in Ethiopia run on sharia law.

Domestically, the government attempts to spread a religion of Sufiesm and liberal Islam. They do this by controlling the nation’s Islamic Affairs Supreme Council. This, in turn, has built more mistrust in the Muslim community.

Growth in Unrest

One clear lesson the Arab Spring has taught is that radical Islam can capitalize on unrest. When strongmen like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qadhafi or Hosni Mubarak are removed, chaos ensues. In some cases, Iran-backed terror quickly follows.

Iraq’s Hussein was a brutal dictator, but he kept Iran at bay. Following the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, half the nation was captured by the Islamic State. Flash forward to today and Iran rules that territory.

Look at Libya: Iran-backed militias fought on the streets of Benghazi. Look at Egypt: How soon after Mubarak fell did Iran cozy up to the Muslim Brotherhood?

Across the Middle East and North Africa, we have seen radical Islam—supported by Iran—flourish. One common factor is instability. Iran loves a crisis! Flash points like Yemen become opportunities for Iranian expansion. Should the opportunity present itself, Ethiopia would not be immune.


Beyond Ethiopia’s borders, radical Islam is spreading. Somalia is overrun. Iran uses Eritrean ports as a staging ground for intervention in Yemen. To the north, Libya is now a hotbed of radicalism. Unrest also flourishes in the Sinai Peninsula, Algeria, Nigeria and Morocco. Radical Islam stands knocking at Ethiopia’s door.

Further placing Ethiopia in the crosshairs of radical Islam is the nation’s location. Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror. Tehran has consolidated power at critical sea-lanes in the region, often using instability to get a stranglehold. Look at the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez and Bab el-Mandeb. Control of Eritrea and Ethiopia would be a major step forward in Iran’s stranglehold plan.

The Trumpet forecasts that Iran’s interest in and influence over Ethiopia will grow. In the April 2011 Trumpet issue, editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote:

Why would Iran be so interested in getting some measure of control over Libya and Ethiopia? To me, the answer is intriguing. All you need to do is get a good map of the Middle East, with the emphasis on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Then you can see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries. They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!

An Unlikely Alliance

Many today scoff at the notion of Islam holding sway in Ethiopia. But it isn’t just geopolitics that the Trumpet bases its analysis on. The Christian Bible states that an Islamic relationship with Ethiopia will come about! Skeptics need only read the prophecies in Daniel 11:40-43, which foretell an end-time clash. It comes from a German-led Holy Roman Empire and an Iranian-led Islamic coalition called the king of the south.

In verse 43, Daniel mentions Ethiopia by name! Our free booklet Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy explains this relationship in detail. And the identity of Iran as the head of this king of the south is also provable. Watch the following 90-second video and see for yourself.

Another free publication we offer, The King of the South, covers this astounding prophecy in detail. Be sure to request a copy if you don’t yet have one.

This is why we watch events in Ethiopia. Despite the government’s efforts to prevent unrest and the spread of radical Islam, the Bible predicts a very specific outcome!

Keep an eye on events in Ethiopia. The forces of radical Islam will not let unrest go to waste.