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Book Summary: Sectarianism in Eritrea. Is it embrace the regime or is itexploited

Most Eritrean politicians and intellectuals are reluctant to talk abou religion and seek help from it in addressing the nation’s issues, whether they are in the government or its opponents it is as if religion is a criminal in its history and present, so they do not want religion to have a place in the future. Their definition of sectarianism focuses on the religious meaning only. As for other blocs, there is no objection to them from most of them, as many parties and groups of a tribal, regional, religious and political nature are established, and they are recognized or legitimately cooperated with them but when it comes to religion it’s different. This research (sectarianism in Eritrea. Does it embrace the regime or exploit it ?) addresses the unjust definition of sectarianism.

It is written to talk about what others are silent about, and it wants to give religious sectarianism as a positive opportunity to contribute to addressing the issues of the homeland and its citizen in Eritrea as it wishes to answer the question: sectarianism in Eritrea. Does it embrace the regime or exploit it?

Sources of the research :

The research relied as a reference on more than 50 books including some of the web publications such as documents, news and reports as well as interviews with well-known active people in the area who constitute a large presence, some of them are intellectuals, who were with the regime and then turned into opponents who have an experience that is suitable to be a testimony of truth because testimonials are the strongest evidence and some information depends on the confession which is the master of evidence.

Research problem:

Many politicians denounce the involvement of religion in politics, considering it as a divisive and tension fueling factor . Therefore, they tend to use the term   “homeland” instead of the term religion, despite the fact that religion is authentic and indispensable and present in their social environment.

Perhaps these politicians take this attitude to escape the description of religious sectarianism, based on the fact that it is reprehensible for them, and that is why they may not welcome this issue that talks about religion and want to make sure that it is “a priest” or “sheikh” in support and embraces the tyrannical regime, or does the regime exploit the religion of the sect with the aim of achieving tyrannical goals that have nothing to do with religion or the interests of the sect? This is the problem that the researchers aim to address by diagnosing and putting forward suggestions and treatment recommendations for it.

The research mentions definitions for researchers about the meaning of sectarianism idiomatically and finds that it varies and ramifies and among which comes the unjust definition, which is the definition of sectarianism by the powerful, on which the rulers rely in order to take it as an accusation that justifies their brutality against their opponents. The term also may include the ruler himself, the oppressor, if he Founded on the party, tribe, nationalism, religion, or ideology bases. And oppresses the other sect for the benefit of his sect. Furthermore, the term includes every oppressed sect which has the right to form an entity that stands in the face of its oppressors under the banner of a tribe, religion or interests, if it has actually been oppressed by the ruling or authoritarian sect in aggression.

The research in its chapters and sections discuss,  the details of its content, using the analysis of historical facts, the present, and the testimonies of specialists. Until it concluded with important results and guiding recommendations.

First – the results:

1 . The term sectarianism means that a segment of society institutes its own organizational body that could be a religion, party, nationalism, or political principle that seeks to control the capabilities of the nation and monopolize. While depriving the rest of the citizens of their rights, it is a negative bloc that must be stood against because it is harmful, unjust, it may be a military or civilian protected by soldiers, it is  sectarian in all these circumstances.

There is no reason to narrow the term sectarianism in religion, because that is an attack by its companions against a group of people Citizens without justification, they may have the right to a non-aggressor group with a good justification from the occurrence of injustice. It has the right to defend itself and to take legitimate means to achieve its goal  and conveys its voice to others.

2- The Eritrean regime targeted to Muslims in Eritrea since independence .This start during the era of the revolution  a trend that all the Eritrean revolution with its various factions experienced .However, it began to show its maliciousness with the Popular Front, exploiting everything for the benefit of  authoritarian sectarian project. And this was stated by those who were  part of the regime’s experience in governance or were in opposition before and after liberation . This targeting was rarely condemned by Eritrean Christians and international organizations in the world in the beginnings when  Eritrean Muslims suffered the brunt of persecution and its severe brutality in some ways 20 years ago, before the unjust whip reached the other members of the church .

3 .All the bad that the country has reached in its social relations among its citizens ,the relationship with the neighboring countries  , economic decline , subjecting its   land for every greedy, and poor services in all areas including  water, electricity, communications, education , infrastructure and adopting repellent policies against Citizens  are  natural results of the ominous alliance between the church and the regime that  mismanaged the country’s human and natural  resources .

and that is why the regime and its ally were unable to bypass the  provisional government for a period of more than thirty years. They also failed in their history to make a relationship and eternal unity  between Eritrea and Ethiopia, which prompted them to join independence, which is basically a project    initiated by the Eritrean Muslims, and  followed by others. Likewise, the Christians could not be a role model for the coming regime. Rather, they were a disgrace to the whole country – according to the opinion of assessment of others to them. It is a failed experiment in leading citizens. It requires an apology, accountability and shyness so that its owners do not repeat it  and do it again.

4- When the crisis in Eritrea intensified and prolonged, many Christians joined the Eritrean opposition list, to whom the scourge of torment extended until their laudable efforts multiplied, despite the fact that the regime still relies on the generous support of the majority of them at home and abroad, which made it monopolize the country’s availability  – because of poor management – and on his hand, oppression and abuse are being carried out on the Eritrean people, and he himself has taken the rest of the people’s components as tools of oppression for the benefit of the sectarian project.

5- The Eritrean Orthodox Church is still suspected of supporting the Eritrean regime, whether it is exploited or loyal of its own free will in addition to the Islamic Dar Al Iftaa, which the Eritrean regime is keen to maintain to exploit it against Muslims and it  does not represent a Muslim sect. Rather, it is a government department that set up  to proceed according to the directions and policy of the authoritarian regime. Therefore, there are no Muslims who support it, and its position is rejected by all Muslims in the countries of the diaspora, Unlike the Orthodox Church, it is a religious sect in Eritrea that is credited with its support for the regime, whether it is loyal or exploited. Its position today in supporting the sectarian regime  is similar to its position in the past in support of Eritrea’s accession to Ethiopia against the will and choice of the Eritrean people.

6 . All Eritrean Christian denominations have recognized outreach and support from outside the borders. The Eritrean regime allows them to communicate, especially the Orthodox Church, which enjoys great openness to the outside and opportunities to achieve interests at home and with clear support from the regime . It makes no difference whether this support is provided to the church for being loyal to the regime  or it has being exploited  and with its silence the regime builds its sectarian tyrannical project. However , communication with the outside world is a clear fact for all the Eritrean churches . There is nothing wrong with that communication, rather the embarrassment is in the prohibition against other sects (Muslim) what is permissible for Christian.

7 .The Eritrean regime forbids Eritrean Muslims from any support comes from abroad , chase  and punish  it . That is why Islamic institutes remained dilapidated and lost their independence through confiscation and constant restrictions by the regime that supports the ruling church to communicate with its peers in the outside world and receive legitimacy and support.

8- The clear fact is that the Eritrean regime cultivates alienation between national sects, animosity, and hatred, and for this reason it must rise above this goal that the regime wants to put it in. It is not appropriate for a sect to be satisfied with the service provided by the regime through blatant attacks it carries out against other citizens, because consent to these acquisitions is a prelude to a future national complications between those whose right to land, money, and position is taken in their original homelands, and those who were brought mostly for the purpose of plundering settlement.

  1. One of the purposes of this research is to initiate hope and optimism between Muslims and Christians in Eritrea, and the key to that is frankness, transparency, mutual respect and the trial of reality and history with clarity without fraud or compliments and without confiscating the right of the other party in the homeland. This calls for religious dialogue, which exonerates from political and regional pressures or sectarian fanaticism .So ,this would achieve convergence between the leaders of the Eritrean sects with the aim of creating a secure future in the prosperous homeland based on the foundations of protecting rights and laying the foundations of justice and equality. It is not useful for the two parties to remain in tension, apprehension, doubts, and misinterpretations of the behavior and attitudes of the other party. Because this is an aggressive approach that does not create a healthy relationship of coexistence between citizens, but rather consolidates and instills the concept of exchanging vengeful roles between the parties. Whoever was oppressed today may turn into an oppressor tomorrow – unless you control morals with religion – and it is an abnormal creation like the ethics of the forest, not the people of the homeland, mind and religion and science
  2. The reality is that the Eritrean Muslims are not far from the homeland, most of them are refugees in neighboring countries, where they did not find the comfort of living that makes them forget their land and their homes .They have a connection to the homeland in their own way, and they monitor the injustice that is happening in their country and are aware of its perpetrator- no matter how deliberately they hide from sight – and the bitterness of injustice is inherited from generation to generation that neither chronological obsolescence nor sultan neglect can erase it. And their religion obliges them to defend the right in terms of religion, money, honor, land, and soul. It is not far from the Eritrean arena to witness a bloody conflict between the oppressor and the oppressed, especially since the sectarian ruling sultan does not have the power to convince his loyalists for eternity of development, security, stability, dignity, freedom, and prosperity. Throughout his long history, he has had nothing but songs, dancing, alcohol, and amusement, and these are means that have been bored by the people and have become unimpressive after independence and disappointment. Therefore, the need remains urgent for the people of religion to rise to their reform duty before it is too late.
  3. The research slander the Eritrean regime and its incubator for the attacks against groups of followers not belong to their church  or individuals whose positions differed with the positions of the regime, so they were imprisoned, killed or confiscated . Islam absolutely condemns aggression, whether it befalls Muslims or others, and our special talk about the injustice that has occurred against Muslims does not deny what has happened to other sects. We are invited to respond to what we propose from an initiative of frank dialogue that we believe is in the interest of all, as a homeland and a citizen.

Second – Recommendations:

It is not right for the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Eritrea to be based on tyranny and the oppression of rights. Rather, it is right for the citizens to come to a peaceful dialogue table that recognizes each other’s right to the homeland and to live in it together . Dialogue will lead people to a permanent agreement on a law that govern  the country and the people .The principle of extreme secularism that excludes religion must be reviewed on the grounds that it is being accused. Many Eritrean factions raised him and failed to provide him with positive and comprehensive solutions. Rather, they struck the ugliest experiments in extremism and exclusion of the other. It was a war against religion, its noble morals, and the transcendence of its legislation to address national issues. It was also a war against each other under the slogans of secularism and democracy. These factions were not immune – to varying degrees – from the harmful sectarian alignment and the aggressor and as way out of this predicament that accompanied the Eritrean struggle. The research has come with the  following recommendations :

1.Recognizing religion, both Islamic and Christian, as authentic and a positive contributor to addressing the issues of the homeland. Therefore, strong antagonistic voices that criticize religious sectarianism must be stopped, so that the slander is directed to the aggressor sect, even if it is a group of tyrannical soldiers, one tyrannical nationalism, Or a religious group, all of them are in the same slander because they are the same in harming and assaulting others .

2- The negative interpretation of religion and  the limit of  the area of movement for it in other national issues must be stopped. And this is the secular vision that imposes restrictions on religion on its own, and interprets religious texts according to what is in accordance with its whims. It is an unjust attack because understanding religion, like all knowledge, needs the people of the remembrance, as they know better its textual semantics, its contents, and the rules of deduction  and it is unfair for others without the profession and knowledge to take precedence to talk about the religion and impose their own opinions on it and twist the legal texts to support their whims.

3 . The sultan’s interference with all religious institutions must be stopped, as they are able to manage their affairs, know their religion, and control the behavior of their employees, and they have the right to enact special laws and regulations regulating their administrative and religious affairs in accordance with the dictates of their laws and interests, so that they remain independent from the whims of the Sultan and it is dominance, and intelligence, as well as the right to protect its  moderation from the disobedience,  or apostasy of some of its employees, whom it is legal to argue with in the best way with a discourse of advocacy, a tolerant jurist, sane, sober away from harshness, cruelty and oppression.

4- All religious sects must be viewed with the same lens in order to find the appropriate support locally and the right to  Calling in a way that is best and establishing educational institutions and educational incubators for its youth and establishment. Benefit organizations are also guaranteed the right to communicate with the outside world with equal opportunities To communicate positively with the outside world in a way that serves the national private and public interest far away from the  accusation of espionage or foreign loyalties that stalking the country and it citizens, and the law controls such communication so that it is not a gateway to bringing in a foreign colonization backed by local sectarianism.

5 . I suggest that the administrations of all religious sects in Eritrea meet on a charter of honor that brings them together to serve the public duty, defend rights, foster religion and social peace, work on the development of the country, and agree to implement  the tolerant religious instructions and instructions on the ground in a peaceful manner and prevent the aggressor interpretation of religion in return for ensuring that The positive, comprehensive, tolerant interpretation that calls for cooperation in righteousness and piety and combats abusive behavior.

6- All national sects are obliged to renounce sultan and sectarian violence and to adopt dialogue to address issues of difference or issues of the homeland. Through dialogue  and debate , God has commanded all people,to solve their differences and reach to an agreement by mutual consent and persuasion or to transfer the issues of dispute to the judiciary and the law for resolution or to move the place of disagreement until the Hour of Judgment comes in order for the wisest of judges to decide if it is one of the issues of belief and private behavior

7 . In Islam, there is a wide and solid space for laying the foundations of peaceful coexistence between Muslims and People of the Book. Islam calls for belief in all the heavenly books and imposes cooperation among its followers and considers citizens, including the People of the Book as one nation, and forbids aggression against the them . They are infallible in blood, honor, money, and the freedom of belief is guaranteed to them. The literature of the Mujahideen – who are the most Muslim groups that raise concerns among Christians – has clarified these peaceful foundations that welcome peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians . And they are foundations that are protected by legal texts and are not left to the whims of people, parties, or groups. I think that other religions are not devoid of principles that favor peace and coexistence over war, tyranny, and the exclusion of competitors. That is why I recommend that the political scene be led by religious scholars in a way that moves them from the degree of subordination to politicians, brings them to adornment and sequel to a strong contribution. With their noble morals and concepts drawn from heavenly books that call for justice, rationality, peaceful coexistence, and the preservation of sanctities.

8- Coexistence between national sects does not come without these parties fulfilling the conditions for coexistence, including the recognition of freedom, pluralism, diversity, frank recognition of the other, and respect for the constants and particularities.

9- Reviving the literature of admitting mistakes, expressing apologies for it and not returning to it, laying the sound foundations not to reproduce it again, and settling crimes committed against the people through an independent judiciary. This is because the failure to apologize for the mistakes or crimes of the past makes the perpetrators take the lead in the political scene once again to reproduce them, which makes the rights of the indigested people tend to vanish and lost because the    perpetrator    protects himself by taking the lead and his past crimes are unrecognized and unapologetic, so there is nothing to deter him from engaging in aggressive behavior in the future and for the previous criminal to inherit the bad behavior  to  the subsequent criminal.

  1. I suggest to the people of religious sects that they support the most appropriate formula for governing the country, which is to agree on a constitution that is not imported from abroad, but rather comes from the people from their religions, customs, traditions, experiences and interests, allowing each region to rule according to the laws it wants., while fulfilling the right of the central government, and this is a recommendation that does not prevent the citizen from moving as he wants, living ,working, and Possesses an innocent natural effort that is not associated with the policy of deporting citizens from their places of origin to The places of other citizens Which generates psychological complexes and severe antagonism immorality, especially if Adopted by a sectarian sultan whose innocence is not trusted by the rightful owners .
  2. 11. Transforming this initiative into a practical reality requires that scholars and priests call for positive communication between the mosque and the church in direct contact that would bring together the leaders of the two parties to a general conference that agrees on a document that sets out the goals, foundations, mechanisms and priorities for joint action.Then unified senior administration shall be selected from among the Eritrean religious sects for the management of joint action according to the document that these sects agree upon. It is desirable that this initiative be preceded by constructive dialogues and gradual preliminary steps to remove the alienation and the feeling of constriction of each party towards the other. The best initiators are those who precede others by starting the first communication, as well as  those who accept  the initiative with satisfaction, exultation, welcome and support.


The research consists of three chapters and nine sections :

Chapter one:the basics of research and the defining of sectarianism, language and terminology

 Section one: the basics of the  research

Section two: Defining sectarianism

Chapter two : Sectarianism in Islam and the attitude of Muslims towards the Eritrean regime

Section one : The term “sectarianism” in Islam

Section two : The attitude of Eritrean Muslims towards the aggressor regime

Section three : Do Eritrean Muslims raise the slogan of reprehensible sectarianism?

Section four : Is Arab support for the Eritrean revolution sectarian Islamic?

Chapter three : Eritrean churches and its attitude towards  the Eritrean regime?

Section one : Sectarianism of the regime

Section two : Testimonies of Eritrean writers and intellectuals about the sectarianism of the regime.

Section three : Introducing the Eritrean churches and its attitude towards  the regime .


The detailed demands of these three chapters and its nine sections have intended to clarify the truth and describe the disease and the cure, without any other purposes of political or sectarian passion. The book believes that the people of religion can make a pioneering contribution to addressing the national problem. The future awaits their turn after the failure of all national initiatives led by secularists, communists, or loyalists to foreign axes that have ambitions for the bounties and treasures of the Eritrean nation – with our exception  appreciation for the efforts of the people of sincerity and sacrifice – in creating national reconciliation, development prosperity, and security stability.

The researcher believes that there are opportunities for the success of the initiatives of the religious men   if their efforts join to establish a charter of honor that they agree upon under a comprehensive umbrella , while respecting each other’s privacy and cooperating in achieving the general national interests away from the unjust political ambitions that kept moving religion in their favor.

In conclusion,  this research is a summary of the opinions of many whom the author interviewed, including many intellectuals who published their opinions in press interviews, some of them joined  the regime and discovered hateful sectarianism and fled, and some of them were prevented from the beginning  by their correct reading from joining the regime and  preferred the opposition of the regime. All these opinions helped in completing this research.  My deep thanks and supplication, may God bless and reward them.

I would like to extend a special thanks to these researchers and scholars who provided a conscious reading of this research and provided valuable advice that helped in its maturation:

Dr. Hassan Mohammed Salman

Prof. Jalal El Din Mohamed Saleh

Mr. Abdullah Ismail Adam 

May God reward them and give them a generous gift, for your critical reading of the research has enhanced the content of the search.

In conclusion , I would like to refer to  an important note, that any written work is not perfect and complete no matter how much thought and time its author spends on it, and no matter how much scholarly consultation is included  in it .

Moreover, national initiatives are not a monopoly on anyone to  claims that his initiative is the final say in solving the nation’s problems, although it is permissible for anyone to be loyal to his initiative. Were it not for such sincere initiatives, the ideas would have died in the hearts of their owners. It is the nature of the wise people to search for solutions to the difficult problems of the homeland and to present initiatives in the name of God, for if any good deeds begins with    the  name of Good it will be blessed and successful .

That is why I am pleased  to discuss this initiative clearly, as I clearly wrote, so that we may reach, through clear and conscious opinions, a unified work project that achieves national goals and respects religion and the people of religion and united national values in which citizens deal with mutual trust, not with cunning apprehension and systematic attacks that carried  out by

Sectarian initiatives that torture their opponents. 

God knows best the intention behind one’s deeds

Dr. Hamed Mohamed Halafa.

“Member of the team of the Zajel Eritrean News Agency “ZENA”

تنويه :

ترجمة ملخص الكتاب باللغة الإنجليزية و التغرنية قد لا تكون خالية من الأخطاء. راجع الموجز الأصلي باللغة العربية عن أي سوء فهم أو توضيح.

Translation of the book summary in English and Tigrinya may not be free of errors. Refer to the original summary in Arabic for any misunderstanding or clarification.

እዚ ጽሟቅ ሓሳብ ብእንግሊዝኛ ትግርኛ ካብ ጌጋ ናጻ ክኸውን ስለዘይኽእል፤ ንዝያዳ መብርሂ እቲ ብ ዓረብኛ ተጻሒፉ ዘሎ ጽሟቅ ሓሳብ ከተንብቡ ንላቦ።


تلخيص كتاب ا لطائفية في أرتريا بقلم المؤلف

تلخيص كتاب الطائفية في أرتريا ..أتحتضن النظام أم يستغلها ؟ المخلص باللغة الإنجليزية

تقييم المستخدمون: كن أول المصوتون !



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