Tension between Protestants in Ethiopia and Members of the Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Arba Minch a city located in the SNNP or the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region, was the scene of growing tensions between Protestants and members of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia.
The city's residents are ethnically diverse and have a history of fostering religious harmony.
Recently though, with the rise in the numbers of Protestants and the fall of Orthodox Church adherents, tensions have led to an increase in the number of hostile engagements.
Protestants blame a radical anti-reform branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church called Mahibere Kidusan as being responsible for the recent hostilities.
The accused Temesgen Mitiku, is the leader of a local Protestant fellowship group and was apparently sentenced to seven months in prison for disrespecting the Orthodox Church's sacred "tabot" or the Ark of the Covenant.
It was reported that he did this by downloading pictures of the "tabot" and displaying it in a manner that caused "outrage to religious peace and feeling".
This sentencing was preceded by violence, when after the first hearing, Mezemir along with other Protestants were said to have been attacked outside the court.
Five Protestants were injured in this incident.
While another witness states that in early January a mob of more than seventy people broke into the Protestants' meeting place, destroying furniture and running off with some musical equipment.
While incidents such as these are very rare in Ethiopia, it should be taken seriously, in order to prevent them in the future.
Religious tolerance and harmony are one of the many commendable hallmarks of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians bear the responsibility to continue this tradition.