ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia Muslim students at Bahardar University have been forced to stop their education and vacate the campuses after the university decided to deny them hijab and prayer places.
“Over 95% of Muslim students of Bahardar University left the campus following the new directive of the University which bans women students from wearing Niqab and Hijab,” Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) website reported on Thursday, January 24.
“The new directive prohibits students from conducting prayer services in the campus,” students told ESAT.
Facing Muslim anger at the administration’s arbitrary decisions, the university officials confirmed that it was beyond their power to make any amendments.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Muslims make up about 34 percent of Ethiopia’s population, according to a government census in 2007.
Yet, other sources put Ethiopia Muslims at about 50% of the country’s population.
Ethiopian Muslims have been protesting the government’s interference in religious affairs since last year.
Protests have rocked Ethiopia over the past months over government interference in the religious affairs of the Muslim community.
Muslims accuse the government of spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the umbrella Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (Majlis) to indoctrinate their community with the ideology of a sect called "Ahbash".
The Ethiopian government has put the Ahbash in charge of the religious affairs of Ethiopia's Muslims.
Muslims say the government move is in violation of the constitution, which prevents the government interference in religious affairs.
Protesters also accuse authorities of fixing elections for the Majlis, the community’s main representative body, after jailing Muslim leaders who would have participated in the vote.