Christian-Muslim Conflict in Ethiopia

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Christian-Muslim Conflict in Ethiopia

Muslim and Christian (Orthodox) populations have long lived together in Ethiopia.  Their ability to coexist peacefully has varied over time and circumstance.  Given the current focus on terrorism and conflict in the Muslim world we might be well served to look at how Muslims and Christians have interacted in other places, like Ethiopia in the past. Despite a relatively peaceful history, the incidence of religious and ethnic violence rose in Ethiopia with the fall of the Derg government in 1991. This research will investigate why and under what circumstances ethnic/religious conflict is increasing and whether Ethiopia might serve as a model of relatively peaceful coexistence despite current challenges.  Ashtosh Varshney's research in India presents a method for testing where and when violent outbreaks tend to occur in relation to civil society institutions. Current views on the conflict might also be gained from interviews with Ethiopians from a number of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. On-going relationship with the Mennonite-related church in Ethiopia will provide access to evangelical views on Christian-Muslim relations and a link to the Mennonite constituency in North America. The summer research will focus on a few tasks within the larger project.

1. Collect and summarize the current literature on historical Muslim-Christian interaction in Ethiopia
2. Access Ethiopian newspapers since 1991 to document and quantify the incidence of religious and ethnic violence according to city.
3. Begin to construct an interview instrument.
4. Summarize of findings with preliminary thesis formation.
Jan Bender Shetler, History

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