Alarming Escalation of Hateful Expressions among Ethiopian Diaspora Community in US

CARD has analyzed NINE videos posted on YouTube after the demonstrations against and for Jawar Mohammed, a renowned and controversial political activist and media mogul in Ethiopia, during his recent visit to the US in November 2019. The videos covered SIX demonstrations in Washington (DC), Seattle (Washington), Atlanta (Georgia), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Las Vegas Nevada and Denver (Colorado). The demonstrators against Jawar Mohammed were also encountered with supporters of him and exchanged hateful expressions of one another as well as derogatory terms against possible ethnic background of each of attendants of the demonstrations.

Context of the Demonstrations

Violence was erupted in Oromia Regional State after Jawar Mohammed announced on his Facebook page that officials had attempted to pull out his government assigned security details after midnight on the 23rd of October 2019. The violence took at least 86 lives, according to official numbers. Many online activists accused Jawar Mohammed for instigating the violence through his Facebook post and later in the Satellite Television Channel, Oromo Media Network (OMN). Jawar Mohammed, a US citizen, travelled to US and announced he will run for office in Ethiopia and started talking to his supporters across US where he faced protests by other Ethiopian diaspora community who accused him for “genocide”. These protestors were also faced by a group of his supporters in some of the places where anti-Jawar demonstrations happened.

Prevalence of Hateful Expressions

Even though majority of the chants and the slogans on demonstrations against Jawar Mohammed were purely political protests, most of the videos that have had wider circulation on social media and higher views (some reaching to 400,000 viewers) on YouTube were the videos with hateful expressions in parts of the same crowds. Similarly, Jawar Mohammed’s supporters have also responded in demonstration against anti-Jawar protesters. Factions of protestors in each of demonstrations used derogatory terms like “gaalla” (against Oromo ethnic supporters of Jawar Mohammed) and politically loaded terms like “neftegna” (against Amhara ethnic protestors of Jawar). Other provoking, dangerous and name calling words like “menga” (mob), “terrorist”, “mass-killer” has also been chanted. The name callings equated informal Oromo youth group in particular and Oromos in general like killers and terrorists. The videos and their clips containing hateful expressions were shared and reshared multiple times on Facebook and YouTube in appreciation and/or condemnation of what had been said.

Necessary Future Cautions!

CARD would like to advise organizers of similar protests and demonstrations to be cautious in framing and crafting their slogans and chants as well as attempting to stop whenever hateful expressions are heard in chanting of subgroups. Media organization and individuals should also be cautious of sharing contents with hateful expressions as they might raise dissemination and cause violence immediately or in a long term.

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