The Eritrean Dictatorial Regime Targets “Al Diaa Islamic School”
The school was established in 1969 with donations from the local Muslim community in Asmara to serve the educational needs of their children with special emphasis on Arabic and Islamic Studies in addition to the standard curriculum taught in other schools.
The school obtained its license from the Department of Education under the then occupational government of Ethiopia of Emperor Haile Selassie, and continued its mission unhindered under successive Ethiopian regimes.
The school that was originally established on an area of 6,000 square meters, 3 classes and 69 students in 1969, boasted in 2012 (1) an area of 16,000 square meters, classes ranging from kindergarten to elementary and intermediate levels with over 1,300 registered students.
The school continued to operate legally with all the required endorsements from the relevant Eritrean government authorities since the current regime took power in 1991 and up to recent times.
It is a known fact that the Eritrean dictatorial regime has practiced faith persecution since its inception. In 1994 it closed several Islamic Private Schools and incarcerated tens of teachers who up to this date are forcibly disappeared without a trace and feared extra judicially executed as per some counts by individuals who have defected from the regime. Although Muslims were the first to be subjected to this kind of persecution by the regime, it is well documented that it has extended its atrocities to what it considers non-mainstream Christianity such as Pentecostals and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Case at Hand:
Recently Al Diaa Islamic School has been targeted by the regime who started by trying to force a change of curriculum and the abandonment of teaching religious subjects and exerting all sorts of pressures on the Committee entrusted with the management of the school. However, the Committee and the Community have resisted this unlawful encroachment and the regime’s attempts to rescind the official approvals attained by the school and maintained for almost half a century.
The arrest of Sheikh Musa Mohammed Noor – Head of the School Committee:
In a new development of the crisis that has been unfolding for some time between the authorities and the school administration, in a further aggravation of the situation, Sheikh Musa Mohammed Noor, the 90-year-old Head of Al Diaa Islamic School Committee has been arrested for resisting the unjustified demands of government officials and trying to reach an amicable solution for the standoff about the following regulations imposed on the school:
- The school to be brought under the direct control of the Ministry of Education and
to abide by its curriculum, therefore abstaining from offering Islamic studies.
- Impose a co-educational system on the school.
- Ban school girls from wearing a head scarf.
Since the abovementioned impositions contradict the principles on which the school was originally established, as well as the most basic rights of Muslims, the Committee at the outbreak of the crisis had requested to meet with the head of the regime, Isais Afwerki, knowing too well that all the powers for even the most trivial of matters are in his hands, and thus wanted to present their grievances directly to him and ask him for an exemption, however they were denied an audience with Isais Afwerki and were asked to file a complaint with the Government official responsible for Muslim affairs, Sheikh Salim Mukhtar, who also refused to meet with the members of the Committee.
This development runs contrary to the spirit of national reconciliation and falls in line with the regime’s detrimental policies of cultural domination that are in direct violation of human rights as enshrined in the UN charter and all relevant international and regional treaties that Eritrea is signatory to.
Sheikh Musa Muhammad Nur, a senior citizen afflicted by many age-related ailments remains in detention in an undisclosed location without recourse to justice or medical attention.
We therefore call upon you to demand the release of Sheikh Nur and the reversal of the government’s unjustified impositions upon Al Diaa Islamic School.
We strongly believe that a decisive stand by this forum will not only highlight the predicament of the Eritreans under this dictatorial regime, and the predicament of people faith from all religions, but it will also help prevent such occurrences in Eritrea and elsewhere.
The Executive Office
Eritrean Lowlanders League
29th October 2017
- According to the latest statistics available to us at this time