Author Topic: Is Nejib Mohammed Representing the Views of Ethiopian-American Muslims?  (Read 2568 times)


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Ethiopian Review
Is Nejib Mohammed Representing the Views of Ethiopian-American Muslims?

June 12th, 2007

By Kedir Yimam

Recently a delegation was sent to Ethiopia by Bedr Ethiopian Muslim Federation to address the violations of God-given and constitutional rights of Ethiopian Muslims by the present government. A body that is composed of Ethiopian Muslims from North America, Europe and the
Middle East met high level Ethiopian government officials including Meles Zenawi. For further reference, a full report of the delegation’s endeavor can be found here.

As head of the delegation and president of the First Hijra Foundation (the local Ethio-American Muslim association in the Washington, DC area) Mr. Nejib Mohammed has given a number of interviews inside Ethiopia, and upon his return in the Washington area in various media outlets. Those of us who are familiar with the task of the delegation were totally taken by surprise with some of the views that Mr. Najib has taken liberty to entertain and would like to remind readers that it is contrary to the views of the mainstream Ethio-American Muslims. It should be highly stressed that the demands put forward by the delegation to the prime minister are legitimate concerns of Ethiopian Muslims in diaspora, which are still in need of resolution. Although no one expects any tangible and fruitful outcome from the trip of the delegation, the need for the wide dissemination of the demands has been high on the agenda of most Ethiopian Muslims. In fact, some of those very demands came from the utter disregard and deliberate suppression of rights by the very government that the delegation is trying to get answers from.

Although the local Ethiopian Muslim community has been aware of the admiration Mr. Nejib had for the current regime in Ethiopia and the close relations that he enjoys at the Ethiopian Embassy for reason that are unknown, it was the leap of faith that he took in total support of the regime that mostly surprised the Muslim community. In subsequent interviews that he gave during his visit in
Ethiopia and upon his return, he went out of his way in praising the achievements of the regime without uttering a word about the injustices that the Ethiopian people are suffering under. Although the reporter did not ask any question pertaining to the recent incident in the Ogaden region, Mr. Nejib went out of his way in an effort to appease the regime and to show his allegiance by condemning the recent attack by Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Is Mr. Nejib aware of what the people of the Ogaden are going through under the present regime in Ethiopia? Does he have all the information to pass judgment on the particular incident except the one provided by the government? And is he truly representing the Ethiopian Muslims in Diaspora by taking sides on issues that he is ill equipped to deal with? For further reading on the subject, I encourage the reader to look into a very critical and educational article on the subject here. Mr. Nejib kept on repeating like a mantra the official line of the regime in all the interviews he gave, including the one with the Voice of America (VOA).

And the final letdown of the Muslim community by Mr. Nejib came at a function that was held by the Ethiopian Embassy recently in honor of who-knows-what. It should not surprise anyone by now that Mr. Nejib is a frequent guest at the Embassy with status of no-need-for-invitation. An acquaintance who was at the same event was at a loss for word regarding the views forwarded by Mr. Nejib in relation to the recent rumor in town that Mr. Meles is not running for office in the next election. According to my source, Mr. Nejib went out of his way in praising the achievement of Mr. Meles and what a great loss for our country it is for Meles not to run for office. No matter what Mr. Nejib feels about the prime minister, the question should be is he representing the mainstream views of the Muslim Diaspora? Whenever Mr. Nejib attends a function at the embassy, is he aware that he is, knowingly or otherwise, representing the local Ethiopian Muslims? Mr. Nejib might argue that he is just expressing his personal views on the matter, but the question remains, is that the perception everyone holds? I don’t believe so.

No one is trying to convince Mr. Nejib personally which side to support regarding the Ethiopian political landscape. As an individual, he has every right to support whomever he fancies; but careful distinction should be made on his part if he is representing an organization and speaking on behalf of it or just expressing his views. It is common knowledge that the Ethiopian Muslim communities in the Diaspora have quite a number of issues with the present regime in Ethiopia as the demands presented to the prime minister as well as other fundamental larger issues of the Ethiopian people clearly shows. There is a common, but erroneous perception on the part of the opposition group (CUD) that the Muslim community is aligning with the Meles regime because of the numerous “benefits” it has achieved in the last decade. And of course every Muslim is aware that this is a blatant fabrication that is hurled against Ethiopian Muslims because it has no factual basis whatsoever. Just to give a slice of history for those who have made a livelihood manufacturing and propagating lies, Ethiopian Muslims have been in a continuous struggle to establish and uphold their God-given rights since time immemorial. Since the downfall of the Haile Sellassie regime, a fraction of these demands were painstakingly and slowly implemented by the Military Junta followed by the present regime. A huge chunk of those demands are still waiting in limbo. And, therefore, for Mr. Nejib to cry at the loss of our “esteemed” prime minister not to be at the helm of power (although I do not believe a word of it until I see it, and if then) to go on trampling on our rights is troubling, to say the least. And if this is a heartfelt opinion on the part of Mr. Nejib, good for him and all the benefits he might loose as a result. But believe me, Mr. Nejib, no one will be shedding a tear if Mr. Meles passes away this very moment, except for the very few who benefited in his royal dictatorship.

And the larger question still remains why Mr. Nejib is embarking in this bold attempt to change the face of a dictator and present him as a savior for Ethiopian Muslims. Forgive me for being direct, but the question has to be asked; Mr. Nejib, have you been recruited and promised some reward on your mission to humanize Meles and present it to us who have been erroneously led to be believe that he is a dictator? Give some credit where it is due, Mr. Nejib, the majority of Ethiopian Muslims as well as the larger population, both in and out of Ethiopia, is politically savvy and sophisticated enough to know what is real and something that is made-up. We have been fooled too many times by snake-charmers, come out of the closet and tell us what this is all about, Mr. Nejib.