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Ethiopia Charges 20 People Over Plot To Create Islamic Government

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Ethiopian authorities have pressed charges against 20 people for allegedly plotting to form an Islamic government in the Christian-dominated nation.

Government officials on Thursday accused the suspects of promoting and inciting their extremist ideology in different parts of the country that mainly comprise of Muslims.

Those arrested are also accused of allegedly planning to overthrow the Ethiopian government by force and replace it with a Shariah law-ruled Islamic government.

The latest charges comes weeks after 18 prominent Muslim leaders and activists were sentenced to lengthy jail terms over allegations that they tried to create an Islamic state using terrorism as a tool.

Early this month, the Federal Court of Ethiopia sentenced the 18 accused to between 7-22 years behind bars. Ethiopia has faced sporadic protests since 2011 when Muslims accused the government of interfering in Islamic affairs, allegations government denies.

Dispute between the government and some Ethiopian Muslims was mainly triggered by what they allege is the government’s introducing on them of a “heterodox, apolitical, minority” Islamic sect called “Ahbash”

The Muslims insist the Islamic sect intended for imposition is unrepresentative to them.

Ethiopian Muslims then launched a movement in July 2011 and began staging sit-in protests every Friday in the capital Addis Ababa.

The protests were also swelled when the government closed the country’s prominent Islamic school, the Awolia College and secondary school.

Muslims demanded the reinstatement of the Islamic school and also requested Awolia to be independent from the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council. Government claims the institution has become a source of extremists and blocked its reopening.

According to the latest census, Muslims make up to a third of the Ethiopian population.