Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It is also a vibrant and expansive center of Christianity: the present Christian population of 80 million is on track to double by 2060, placing Ethiopia far ahead of any European nation. The Orthodox make up 44 percent of Ethiopia, and 22 percent are evangelicals or “Pentays”—Pentecostals. Some 31 percent are Muslims.
But religion is by no means the only factor dividing the country, which is a patchwork of ethnic, tribal, and linguistic groupings. From 1975 through 1991, those diverse populations allied to resist and ultimately overthrow a savage communist dictatorship. After liberation, one of the most powerful ethnic groups seceded to form the new nation of Eritrea. The remaining groups cooperated, somewhat tensely, to rule the restored Ethiopia. That coalition was dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which effectively held power until 2018. The TPLF was then displaced by the new regime headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has won golden opinions as a peacemaker. In 2019, he received the Nobel Prize for promoting peace with Eritrea. As a faithful Pentay, Abiy Ahmed represents that sizable and fast-growing share of the population.
But despite initial hopes, the country has descended rapidly into turmoil. As the TPLF became ever more disaffected, violence erupted with Ethiopian armed forces, and in 2020, a full-scale Tigray War was in progress. Ethiopian forces seeking to impose their rule on Tigray were assisted by allied Eritrean regulars, and also by some lethal ethnic militias. Massacres and atrocities mounted.
The 🇪🇹 govt. & its allies have sought to destroy #Tigray & its people. Those in Western Tigray remain brutally occupied by Amhara forces as they enact their ethnic cleansing & genocidal campaign. Int’l community must act to alleviate Tigrayans’ suffering & stop #TigrayGenocide pic.twitter.com/9KBRerK6Xt
— Omna Tigray (@OmnaTigray) October 26, 2021