Tigray disaster: Ethiopia to restore al-Nejashi mosque


Damaged mosque

picture copyrightSocial media

picture captionLocals consider the al-Nejashi Mosque is the oldest in Africa

The Ethiopian authorities has promised to restore a centuries-old mosque that was broken final month in the course of the battle within the northern Tigray area.

The al-Nejashi Mosque was reportedly shelled and looted, and the tombs of historic Islamic figures broken.

The federal government mentioned a close-by church broken in the course of the battle would even be repaired.

Locals consider al-Nejashi was constructed by the primary Muslims emigrate to Africa in the course of the time of Prophet Muhammad.

They’d fled persecution in Mecca and got refuge in what was then the Kingdom of Aksum.

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Native Muslims consider that 15 disciples of Prophet Muhammad are buried within the broken tombs.

Additionally they say the mosque is the oldest in Africa, although others consider that title belongs to at least one in Egypt.

The mosque is in Wukro city, some 800km (500 miles) from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

An Orthodox Christian church named Saint Emmanuel was additionally broken, however additional particulars are unavailable.

A Turkish support company launched a undertaking in 2015 to renovate the mosque, saying it wished to “protect the heritage” of the monument and wished it to develop into a serious vacation spot for “non secular tourism”.

picture captionThe mosque was renovated with Turkey’s assist

The mosque and close by church had been broken in the course of the month-long navy operation that led to the Tigray Folks’s Liberation Entrance (TPLF) being ousted from energy within the area on 28 November.

What occurred to the mosque?

A Belgium-based non-profit organisation, Europe Exterior Programme with Africa, reported on 18 December that al-Nejashi Mosque was “first bombed and later looted by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops“.

“Tigrayan sources are saying that individuals have died making an attempt to guard the mosque,” it added.

The federal government has not commented on the stories. Each the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments additionally deny that Eritrean forces are in Tigray to assist in the combat in opposition to the TPLF.

Extra concerning the combating in Tigray:

On Monday, Ethiopian state tv quoted residents as saying that TPLF forces had dug trenches across the mosque, with out giving any extra particulars.

The federal government has imposed heavy restrictions on the media in Tigray, making it tough to know what precisely is occurring. Entry to Tigray has additionally been restricted for support employees.

In a BBC Amharic interview, the deputy director of the Ethiopian Heritage Preservation Authority, Abebaw Ayalew, mentioned a staff can be despatched to examine the injury to each the mosque and church earlier than they’re repaired.

“These websites are usually not solely locations of worship. Additionally it is the heritage of the entire of Ethiopia,” he mentioned.

media captionIs that this the house of the Ark of the Covenant?

How unhealthy has the battle been?

It’s unclear what number of have been killed within the battle, however Mr Abiy beforehand mentioned that the navy didn’t kill a single civilian in the course of the operation that led to the TPLF’s elimination from energy.

UN and different human rights our bodies are calling for an impartial investigation into allegations of in opposition to all sides, together with the bloodbath of civilians and the shelling and looting of residential areas and a hospital.

Greater than 50,000 folks have fled to Sudan to flee the combating.

What’s the combating about?

The battle broke out in early November, when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a navy offensive in opposition to regional forces in Tigray.

He mentioned he did so in response to an assault on navy bases housing authorities troops in Tigray.

The battle got here after months of feuding between Mr Abiy’s authorities and leaders of the TPLF – the area’s dominant political social gathering.

For nearly three a long time, the social gathering was on the centre of energy, earlier than it was sidelined after Mr Abiy took workplace in 2018 within the wake of anti-government protests.

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5 issues about Tigray:

1. The Kingdom of Aksum was centred within the area. Described as one of many best civilisations of the traditional world, it was as soon as probably the most highly effective state between the Roman and Persian empires.

picture copyrightGetty Photographs
picture captionAksum is believed to have been the house of the biblical Queen of Sheba

2. The ruins of the town of Aksum are a UN World Heritage Web site. The positioning, relationship from between the first and 13th Century AD, options obelisks, castles, royal tombs and a church which is believed by some to accommodate the Ark of the Covenant.

3. Most individuals in Tigray are Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. The area’s Christian roots stretch again 1,600 years.

4. The area’s primary language is Tigrinya, a Semitic dialect with not less than seven million audio system worldwide.

5. Sesame is a serious money crop, exported to the US, China and different international locations.

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