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Hands Off, Dr. Yussuf: We are capable of Dealing with Our Internal Affair. – by Mahmud Saleh

The Muslim world is going through tough time. Decades of failed policies of western countries, and the tight grip repressive regimes applied on their people have now resulted in the mushrooming of terrorist franchises. While

The Muslim world is going through tough time. Decades of failed policies of western countries, and the tight grip repressive regimes applied on their people have now resulted in the mushrooming of terrorist franchises. While global forces have largely pushed our world towards cooperation and interdependence, terrorist masterminds have plunged the Muslim world in chaos and disorder. And at the center of all these mayhem are radical preachers who have monetized their venomous Friday  speeches.

In a blistering Friday sermon uner the title ” Eritrean Muslims: the forgotten cause,”  a Sudanese Sheikh, Dr. AbdulHay Yussuf, called on all Muslims to support Eritrean Muslims.  According to his angry Friday preaching:

– Eritrea is a 70% Muslim nation and has been ruled by Godless, communist, and Baathist leaders.

– Eritrea once was a Muslim nation and was part of the Ottoman Caliphate.

– Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia waged a religious war against Muslim Eritreans.

–  After independence, Eritrean Muslims are fighting against an unbeliever regime, which continues the practices of its predecessors.

– Eritrean Muslims are united to fight the unbeliever regime so that the rule of Islam will return to that part of the world.

– Issayas’ hatred and vindictiveness towards Muslims surpassed his predecessors (Ethiopian rulers).  Issayas (Eritrean president) declared war on Muslims…dried up the sources of Islam, imprisoned Du’at (people who preach and invite to Islam).  He tortured [clergy men]…and forced them out of their country. He violated the honor and dignity of Muslim women under the guise of national service where they are made to marry Christians.

– He fought off Arabic language considering it a foreign language, etcetera, etcetera.

The above are some excerpts from his incensed speech. It is a ranting of an arrogantly ignorant  man, full of bigotry and malice. The preacher made this remarks in connection with the recent protest of Addiae school in Asmara, Eritrea. Eritreans, regardless of their religious affiliations,  are discussing the incident and its significance on the ongoing struggle to bring  democratic change in Eritrea. Hence, the purpose of this article is limited to giving an appropriate reply to the doctor’s erroneous assertions about Eritrea, its people, and history.

Some facts:

Dr. Yussuf volunteered to introduce a “forgotten cause” of Eritrean Muslims to Sudanese audience.  Dr.  Abdulhay Yussuf doesn’t need to introduce Eritrea and Eritreans to Sudanese brothers and sisters. I don’t know about him but the border between the two sisterly countries has never been a barrier separating the two brotherly peoples. Eritreans consider Sudan their second country, and Sudanese brothers and sisters are welcome into Eritrea. Eritrean Muslims and  Christians are well aware and speak highly of Sudanese hospitality. Those who had left Sudan remember it with fondness. They rhyme the song of brotherhood: “Ekhwan…Ekhwan// Eritrea wo Sudan.”

That is speaking of the ordinary people. As far as the religious establishment of Sudan is concerned, Eritrea has occasionally found itself  in the crosshairs of individuals who wish to spread their Islamic politics. In the past, some Sudanese radical Islamists tried to export hatred and confusion across borders. In some places, such as Somalia, they succeeded.  In Eritrea, the story was different. They failed. The first defense line against these fanatics were Eritrean Muslims. In the years that followed the independence of Eritrea, radical zealots launched a campaign that was designed to replicate the experience of Afghan Mujahidin  in Eritrea. They terrorized regions adjacent to the Sudanese border. They headquartered in Sudan and received support from elite radicals that included Hassen Atturabi and his government. Eritrea was lucky to escape the scourge of radicalism. And the primary reason for that was the unity of our people. Is Dr. Yussuf trying to exploit the protest of Addiae School to reinvent the wheel? Is he testing the waters for possibilities of promoting his destructive agenda? Is he calling beaten forces of darkness and barbarity to head for Eritrea?  It is possible. As terrorists lose turfs in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and other places, it is possible people like Dr. Yussuf to look for other places. Tigrayet speaker say “Itethamel” when they face this type of situation. It simply means watch out; don’t let down your guard. We must not let down our guard. We should stay vigilant in safeguarding our unity.

Short Replies To The Doctor:

  1. “Eritrea is 70% Muslim nation,” Wrong.  Although there is no recent census, Eritrea is home to Muslims and Christians, composed of nine linguistic groups. Muslims make up half of the population. Religion is only one identifying factor. Other than religion, more threads connect Eritrean social groups. Religion has never been a dividing factor in our history. Eritreans fought and fell in one trench. The secret of winning their independence against odds lies in their unity. British Military Administration and Emperor Haile Selassie tried to play religious cards, but the impact was minimal. Their religious schemes did not split Eritreans.
  2. “Eritrea was a Muslim part of the Ottoman Caliphate.” Wrong. Eritrea assumed its current political map with the advent of Italian colony (1890). The Ottoman rule was limited to the Eritrean lowlands which historically was inhabited by majority Muslim population.  The highland (Christian,  half of Eritrea’s population) remained under different polity. Ottoman Turkey tried to expand its occupation beyond the lowlands but met resistance. Clashes continued between Ottoman Turks and rulers of the highlands but Turkey could not place a total claim over the entire area of today’s Eritrea.

It is obvious. If Dr. Yussuf really intended to make a constructive Friday Kutba on Eritrean Muslims, he would do a minimum preparation on Eritrean history. But it seems he was not interested in a constructive dialogue. He was in for the day with the usual attitude of poisoning the minds of naive followers and with the intent of declaring war on Eritrean unity and sovereignty.

  1. Were Eritreans entangled with Ethiopian rulers in a religious war? No.  Eritrean revolution was a national struggle against occupation and subjugation. The mere fact that it had begun in the lowlands does not make it a Muslim rebellion. Geography did not affect its substance; it was an inclusive revolution. And it did not take time for the Highlanders to join it. Of course, Haile Selassie and his predecessors set up Ethiopia in world stage as a Christian oasis;  he characterized Eritrean liberation movement as an Islamist venture instigated by the Arabs. The purpose of such an effort was to weaken Eritrean  revolution by sowing suspicions and divisions among Eritreans. He also wanted to stimulate the old Abyssinian, anti-Arab sentiments.

For the first decade of the struggle, the liberation fighters depended entirely on the support of the lowlanders for food, logistics, human resource, and intelligence gathering.   By late 1960s, the armed struggle became visible. The Ethiopian ruler, Emperor Haile Selassie, announced a state of emergency to crush the fledgling revolution by drying up the source of its strength. The plan was to force the lowlanders to concentration camps so that the Imperial administration would deprive the liberation fighters of the sustenance the population was giving them. It was famously called ” To kill the fish, drain out the sea.”

Most of the villagers refused. In retaliation, Ethiopia declared scorched earth policy, wiping out  villages in the lowlands, killing thousands of innocent people, looting and pillaging livestock and properties. In 1967, the first wave of Eritrean refugees, by some estimates close to 75,000, crossed to the Sudan.  It was an open killing season where Ethiopian army had the order to murder innocent people in cold blood. I’m a survivor of those atrocities. It was a brutal reprisal. However, It was not a religious war. Eritrean revolution never was a religious rebellion.  Christian compatriots, including Isssayas,  were members of the liberation army that Emperor Haile Selassie targeted. Many brave Christian liberation fighters fell beside their Muslim comrades defending a prominently Muslim population.

If Eritrean revolution began in the highlands and made its bases among the Christian community, Emperor Haile Selassie would not have a softer heart for those Christians. Their fate would be similar to their Muslim compatriots. In fact, that was the case when the revolution grew and spread to the highlands.

There is this biased narration of Western and Arab scholars that surmises Ethiopia was/is a Christian country. The misconception is partly due to Ethiopian rulers’

Strategy to gain the support and blessing of Western aid. Nevertheless, Ethiopia is 1/3 Muslim, and if Emperor Haile Selassie were to wage a religious war against Muslims and their prophet (PBUH), it would be logical for him to start the cleaning-up of Muslims from Ethiopia. Haile Selassie cared only for one thing: his power.

For instance, Haile Selassie did not hesitate to massacre Christian uprising in 1943 in the region of Tigray. A rebellion known as the first wayane was crushed by the Emperor using British airforce. Thousand died in the process. Therefore, framing Ethiopian campaigns of destruction as a crusade against Muslims and their prophet is wrong. It implies Eritrean revolution was a Muslim movement. Eritrean Revolution encompassed all sectors of society. It was a struggle for a national cause, which would include Muslims and Christians.

Enough!! Kefa Ya Sheikna

Dr. Abdulhay Yussuf:  enough of hateful preaching. The Middle East is in turmoil because of this kind of preaching.  Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, and other countries are suffering as a result of the terrorist acts of young men who got duped by hateful preaching. While the world continues advancing in science and technology, sadly, the Muslim world has plunged in darkness and confusion. This is because the likes of Dr. Yussuf have found a free ride in the minds of young Muslims. Instead of cultivating inventions and peaceful- co-existence, preachers like this lunatic Sheikh are producing fanatics who have no respect for human life. They did not spare their own Muslim communities let along the world. They perfected the worst forms of torture including burning human beings alive, beheading innocent civilians, enslaving captured populations that don’t adhere to their version of “Islam”.

Zealot preachers like Dr. Yussuf sent the naives to their death along the way blowing up  innocent lives. Dr. Yussuf is on record revering Osama Bin Laden. His  speech was nothing but declaring war. The Muslim world is plagued with poisonous  preachers who act as if they master the destiny of humanity. They dragged Muslim societies towards backwardness while fattening their pockets. They have been able to do only one thing: create terrorist minds and organizations that come in different names and franchises: ISIS, Alqaeda,  Boko Haram, Alshabab, etc. And now, Dr.Yussuf wants to export his fanatic ideas to Eritrea!?

I have bad news for you, doctor. It was tried before you but did not work.

So, why don’t you start from Sudan? Have you thought about helping Sudanese Muslims who have been terrorized in Darfur? Have you considered condemning the racist Janjaweed who torched Darfurian villages? You know, your government has been accused of genocide. So, how could you try to liberate Eritrean Muslims before even tackling your own Muslims’ problem? Alas, what else could a deranged mind produce? But please hands off Eritrea.

Finally, you spoke of the imprisonments of Muslim scholars. Well, Christian leaders did not fare better either. The regime in Asmara has harassed Christian institutions too. As I write this piece, the regime ordered Christian students to take off religious symbols. Dr. Yussuf must be living in an isolated bubble. Otherwise, the world is talking about Eritrea’s human right situation. My friend , we have a regime that has been abusing Eritreans regardless of their faith. Bringing a lasting solution will take an inclusive and concerted endeavor by all Eritreans. We have done it in the past; we will do it this time too.

Sure, Eritrea is going through tough time, but it is not because of religious discrimination. It is a political problem. There are Eritrean forces which are trying to coordinate their efforts to accelerate the fight for democracy. Unlike the story Dr. YUssuf told his congregation, Christians and Muslims alike are condemning the heavy-handedness of the government in suppressing the people’s protest. I am pleased and feel proud to tell Dr. Yussuf that our Christian compatriots stood with their Muslim brothers and sisters in demanding answers from the government. Dr. Yussuf’s fanatic ranting could not shake Eritrean unity. We refuse to break up and split. We rise and fall together. We will take care of our internal political problems. Hands off, please.



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Review overview
  • Lula November 9, 2017

    Few years back we were begging the Arab Shieks and their servants to speak up and rally against their own many Arab regimes and the Arab Embassies in the Europe and North America that were incarcerating the Christian Eritrean refugees in the Arab world and those who were being kidnapped by the savage Arab Bedouins and the Arab Rashyadas and snatched their body organs, all the way from Kessela – Gadarif to Libya and Egypt-Sinai, as many Christian Eritreans were sold to Arab slavery and many were beheaded by the Islamist State ISIS dogs but only few and dedicated Eritreans, such as Assenna, Aba Mussie, Dr Alganesh and the Erena network worked hard to expose the crimes, Many Arabs and their servants would not even post on their websites the suffering of Eritrean Christians. And now, these Jihadi Arab Shieks are trying to declare a Jihadi Muslim Fatwa on Christian Eritreans? Who would be surprised?
    Eritreans and the Horn of Africans have a lot of bad memories for centuries about the the evil campaings of the Ottoman-Turk Caliphates, the invasion of the Arab muslim Egyptians and the Jihadi interference of the Islamist ideologue by the likes of Turabis to understand well their parochial Islamist destructive minds and devilish motivations.
    This retarded Arab Shiek and his likes only revealed what the Arab Islamists and their slaves have in store in their evil fanatic minds against the christian Eritreans who had survived in this part of the Horn of Africa for millennia while the Arabs were burning languages, heritage and identity all over in the Middle East and Northern Africa, that includes the destruction of languages and cultures in Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.. .

    Show me a single Arab and Islamic nation ruled by the Sharia Islam that has become a democratic nation? Is it Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Libya ? or, is it our next door land of the Jebelis — the Arab Republic of Yemen?
    There is absolutely none ever in history! Therefore, the Arab Muslim Sheik in question and his likes are all worthless and waste of time. He should clean his own stink few times a day before he opens his stinky mouth on the gallant Christian Eritreans who have never burned their own languages, identity and heritage for millennia.

  • Kiki Tzeggai November 9, 2017

    Mr. Mahmud Saleh:
    The reader I am hurried with pleasure to post comments and support – not you – but the truth of our culture and our country.
    However, the leader you are with writing this article compels me to send few lines to you. Please allow me.
    Words can neither qualify nor quantify how helpful your article is mainly to our own young generations and neighboring countries’’ generations.
    Hopefully, your guidance will make anyone who intentionally tries to disrupt our unity understand that you showed them the way to a place where they might not want to go, but they ought to be. You defined a reality they try to ignore and you inspired them to see for themselves.
    Thank you much, Kiki Tzeggai

  • መፍቀሬ ኢየሱስ November 9, 2017

    ዝኸበርኩም ኣቶ ማሕሙድ ሳልሕ፥ ትሕዝቶ ጽሑፍኩም፡ `ንሓደ ግዕዙይ ዘረባ ዝተዋህበ ብሱል ዘረባ` ኢዩ። ሰላምን ራህዋን ፍቕርን ሕውነትን ዝመልኣ ርሕብቲ ሃገር ይግበረልና። በጃኹም ተማሳሳሊ ርእይቶ ካብ ምሃብ ኣይተቋርጹ።

    Dear Mr Mahmud Saleh, your peace is truly measured and logical response to a flawed preacher’s poisonous message. I hope to see more of your views in the future. I hope we shall see a prosperous and respected Eritrea where her people enjoy freedom, love and fraternity against the wishes of pfdj and the flawed preacher’s wishes.

  • Addis November 10, 2017

    Why is a Sudanese nomad allowed to preach in an Eritrean website? Of course this nomad doesn’t really care about refuting the jihadist’s rant from Sudan proper, rather protect it from our wrath under a guise of “Eritrean patriotism” or whatever crap he used to hide the Sudanese cultural aggression! Bottom line, a Sudanese nomad has no business defending Eritrea’s Christian civilization! We can take of our own! Stay out, and go back home to the Sudan!

  • Addis November 10, 2017

    Hey assenna, I hope it’s just some technical glitch, and not that you have actually bothered to remove my comment. Yeah, I am from Addis, but does that mean I have no place here????? Come on, guys, just look the very subject matter at hand right here – is it not about some Sudanese jihadist trying to take over Eritrea?

    Come on, wake up, this is a battle Eritrea cannot afford to go to without an ally of its own if it is to successfully resist similar cultural aggressions coming from the Sudan and co. that is bound to continue until Eritrea is reduced to become another Islamist arab league nation! Is that what you want? Wake up, ghedli is over now, this is a different kind of war that cannot be won by going it alone!

  • Meretse November 10, 2017

    we have missed a number of opportunities from our hand. Akriaya’s uprising has nothing to do with religion or faith. Dr Yuusuf for your own benefit you need to learn from one of the Tigrina’s expressions: ኣብዘይ መንጠቢትክን፡ ኣይተእትዋ ኢድክን (do not put your hand in a pot which doesn’t belong to you) Do not u worry much about us, for we know eachother very well where we came from. And those of u (actually a few in number) who are disrespecting aboy Haji Musa your reasons are unfound and your time is expired.

  • Meretse November 10, 2017

    ሕርሲን የሎን – ከብድን ተወጢጡ
    ከስዔ ከምዝኮነስ – ቀደም ተፈሊጡ
    ኢላ ኔራ – ተስፋ ዝቖረጸት
    ሓሳባ ቀይራ “ኣክሪያ” ምስ መጽአት

    • Danilo November 10, 2017

      Meretse, you are right but the more serious is ours. ኣብ ሓደ ቁራዕ እንዳተጠጥቅና ጥረን ብሱሉን ሙኹዋና ኢዩ።

      • Meretse November 11, 2017

        “ኣብ ሓደ ቑርዕ እንዳ ተጠጥቕና ጥረን ብሱሉን ምዃና ኢዩ?
        እስኪ’ዚ እዛ ሓጻር ታርክ እንተሓገዘትና –
        ኣያ ኣሕመድ ንዓሊ ሓዉ ክንዲ ኣቦን ኣደ ኮይኑ ምዕባይ ጥራሕ ዘይኮነስ ኣመርዕዎ ከኣ፡ ኣብ ግዜ ሕጽኖቱ ድሕሪ ቑርሲ ንደገ ምስ ወጸ ምስ ካልኦት መርዓውቲ ሙሉእ መዓልቲ ክጻወት ምውዓሉ ከይተርፍ ብኡ ጌሩ ናብ ምስዮት ከይዱ። መርዓት ሰብኣየይ ዘይብሉ ኣይበልዕን ክሳደይ ንበላሕ ኢላ ዊዒላ ሓዲራ።
        በዚ ምክንያት ዝሓረቀ ኣያ ኣሕመድ ንዓሊ ከም’ዚ ክብል ተዛረቦ፡-
        ኣንታ ዓሊ ረቢ ርእሲ ሂቡዃ
        ኢድ ሂቡዃ፥ እግሪ ሂቡዃ ….. ኩሉ ሂቡዃ
        ግን እቲ ረቢ “ልቢ” ክህብ እንከሎስ ኣበይ ኔርካ?
        ዝብሎ ምስ ሰኣነ ዝበሎ ኢዩ። ረቢ ኒሕ ሓቦ ክህብ እንክሎ ደገ ዝወዓሉ ኩሉ ግዜ ጥረ ኢዮም ።
        ግን ሕማቅ ሰብካ ንመን ትህቦ? ክሳብ ጸሓይ ብራቅ ንሰከሞም እምበር . …

        • Simon G November 11, 2017

          Nice, brothers Danilo & Meretse!
          ክንደይ ሊቃውንቲ ኣብ ደገ ‘ባ ሰፊሮም. Preach brothers!

  • Taame Seyoum November 10, 2017

    First I would like to thank and admire brother Mohmud Ibrahim who wrote this wonderful article of response of unity – hands off – to Dr. Yousuf. This article teaches a lot to to all brothers of Eritrean Moslems and Christians. I would appreciate if Assenna or the author could work on translation this article of response in Arabic and Tigrigna and possibly broadcasting it in your radio Assenna, so that all the Eritrean people can understand the power of unity, because this ” hands off ” article is very, very power full.article.
    keep the good job alive
    Thank you.
    . .

    • Kiki Tzeggai November 11, 2017

      Taame Seyoum:
      you are right suggesting Assenna and Mahmud to broadcast Mahmud’s letter on radio in all languages. Thank you.

      Our people back home have one (1) radio per village/small town. Our elderly have only access to hear/say. Almost no one has access to “reading” websites. Let us make it available to them on radio. Our refugees too could hear it on radio. and our prisoners will hear it as a whisper..

      Amanuel and Mahmud:
      I would like you both to tell our people that we are coming out of this better and not bitter. That our hope is up and never dusted. Thank you.

  • AHMED SALEH !!! November 11, 2017

    Genuine Eritreans spoke loud in unionison against
    our common enemies with wicked intention to
    divide and rule the nation .
    We have obligations to overcome the promise vowed
    for our unsung heroes Moslems and Christians who paid their life dearly .
    Eritreans from every corner send the message cleary
    that we do not compromise on our UNITY .
    I praise commentators positive remarks to give prior
    attention in defense of our national interest .

    • tesmin November 11, 2017

      Ahmed, we have been unique as people in one nation. History is a witness, our harmony and aspirations is alive. Any one, including enemy should understand the stand up properly the cohesion Muslims and Christians from Australia to Europe, USA ect. As, alfa omega to start with. The rest is only a brake for cappuccino.

  • k.tewolde November 12, 2017

    It is a beautiful thing,the sights and sound captivating,the crisp winds of hope,peace,love and solidarity of the Eritrean people have drowned the acrid noise of hatred,divisiveness and arrogance of tyranny,out of the blue the badly wounded motherland starts to heal,they have awoken the sleeping giant- the oppressed people.If I were you HGDEF, I would peacefully stir out of the way.This time they taking it to the house.

    • k.tewolde November 12, 2017

      In other words,they said,we don’t need anybody to speak for us,we will speak of ourselves,and they did! lets give them a hand.