‘Religion is about love and respect for each other’

'Religion is about love and respect for each other'
IN MY VOICE: In the face of violence and beheadings based on religion, NFGL member Etsegenet Kedir Mohammed helped organize an event to remind people that religion is about peace.

It was evening, Sunday April 19, 2007, and the Facebook message I got from a friend was not about to ask me how my day was, or any other greeting that one might expect from a friend. Rather, it was a message that contained Aljazeera news about ISIL beheading and shooting 27 Ethiopian and three Eritrean young captive Christian men at the Mediterranean beach.

When I go through my Facebook page, the video realized by ISIL and pictures of the martyrs are spread by my friends. I was shocked and sat 4 hours in a chair without saying anything.

Previously, I accidentally saw a video which shows ISSL beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the Mediterranean beach. This time I couldn't get the mental strength to see the video of ISIL killing 30 young men of my beloved country. I know many of them go through Libya to cross borders to European countries.

They went there looking for a better standard of living using illegal traffickers and smugglers. ISSL knew that these young men were defenseless and do not have any protection, so that it could use them to get the attention it is looking for. I know all Ethiopians and Eritreans are heartbroken because of what happened to our brothers. 

It is because of this reason that several Ethiopians who live in Lund and Ethiopian students of Lund University proposed to hold a candlelight vigil for commemoration of victims of ISIL.

On April 24, at 7pm, The Ethiopian and Eritrean community as well as international students of Lund University gathered at Stortorget, in Lund to pay our tribute to those martyrs.

During the event, apart from holding a candlelight vigil, we also condemned ISIL action of killing innocent and defenseless individuals because of their religion, and urged the international community to pay the necessary attention it should be given to the situation.

The student Chaplain, Jan Kjellström, also joined us and gave a speech about how religion should be used to spread love rather than hate around the world. In addition, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church also held a prayer and candlelight vigil for victims of ISIL on Saturday, April 20, 2012 from 8 to 12.

I couldn't find any reasonable grounds why ISIL chose these innocent and defenseless individuals to achieve whatever goal it has. In the video, member of the ISIL repeatedly told us that these individuals are horribly killed because of their faith and they are not willing to change their religion.

It seems like this militant group didn't get the idea of religion at all.

We Ethiopian raised in a community where Muslims and Christians live together respecting each other's religion. Surprisingly, I read on the news that one of the victims of ISIL is Ethiopian Muslim who doesn't want to be separated from his fellow brothers.

I took it as a message around the world that religion is about love and respect for each other. 

It also shows that using religion to cover inhuman action of the militant group does not take them anywhere. It was some three weeks ago that we lost 147, students in Kenya by a terrorist group called Al-shabab. We should say no to any attack on innocent and defenseless individuals on any citizens.

I believe that the international community has a lot to do to protect innocent individuals from such inhuman and horrible action of terrorist groups. 

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