Ethiopia : Governing the Faithful
Broader regional and global trends are reflected in the religion and religious tensions in Ethiopia - though in many ways unique due to the millennia-long presence of both Christianity and Islam. The country has not experienced anything like the faith-based revolutions, wars and violent extremism in neighbouring Sudan, Somalia and Kenya. However, perceptions of discrimination and exclusion, as well as resistance to top-down government, have been constant drivers of past social revolutions and ethno-regional rebellions. The experiences of its neighbours have also meant that, until recently, the government has been particularly wary of regional external influences (sometimes fundamentalist) on its faith-based communities and their ideologies. It has tended, consequently, to focus its counter-radicalization efforts on guarding against unwanted external influence. In the last few years, however, its concerns have shifted to homegrown religious activism, particularly groups it perceives as having a partisan political agenda favouring certain opposition groups, as well as those it suspects are promoting violent extremism. While the government can claim to be even-handed, for example criticising the rise of the neo-conservative and Orthodox Mahibere Kidusan as well as action against specific incidents of Christian chauvinism, it has not attempted to exert the same theological influence on the EOTC synod as it did by promoting Al Ahbash in the Mejlis.