Go back

Religion, ethnicity, and charges of extremism: the dynamics of inter-communal violence in Ethiopia

DATE: 4 MARCH 2021

TIME: 15.00 CET


In recent months, the conflict in Tigray has dominated most analyses of Ethiopian politics. The scale of the Tigray crisis makes this understandable, but in its shadow, inter-communal tensions and conflicts have persisted across Ethiopia. In recent years there were numerous violent incidents, such as the Amhara regional ‘coup’ attempt of June 2019, the violence across Oromia in October 2019, and incidents around Timkat in Dire Dawa and Harar in January 2020.

A team of Ethiopian and international researchers – Terje Østebø, Jörg Haustein, Fasika Gedif, Kedir Jemal Kadir, Muhammed Jemal, and Yihenew Alemu Tesfaye – studied two incidents of inter-communal violence: the attacks on mosques and (mostly) Muslim properties in Mota, Amhara region in December 2019 and the violence and destruction of properties in Shashemene and other towns in Oromia in July 2020. They will present their findings in this event, followed by discussion and Q&A.

Their research shows that in Ethiopia religion and ethnic violence overlap and interact with one another in complex ways. Given the current emphasis on ethnicity in Ethiopian politics, the role of religious affiliation is often overlooked, yet it is here that the accusation of “extremism” is most frequently and most consequentially raised: the mere expectation or accusation of extremism has sufficed to generate inter-communal violence and deepened a climate of mistrust.


15.00 CET | Presentation of research findings

  • Terje Østebø, University of Florida
  • Jörg Haustein, University of Cambridge

15.30 CET | Response by panel discussants

  • Geresu Tufa, I4C
  • Amal Ahmed Ismail, European Institute of Peace

15.50 CET | Questions and answers

Moderated by Sandy Wade, Senior Advisor, European Institute of Peace

If you have any questions, please contact Camille Schyns, Senior Programme Officer for Ethiopia, European Institute of Peace, at camille.schyns@cg9lzbbryk.preview.infomaniak.website.