An Ethiopian court sentenced 18 Muslim activists, including clerics and journalists, to 22 years in prison on Monday under the country’s anti-terrorism laws.
The 18 were arrested three years ago for protests against the government interference in religious affairs and have been convicted on charges including terrorism and conspiracy to create an Islamic state. A journalist for a Muslim newspaper was also sentenced for conspiring with activists.
All of the defendants deny all the charges and say they have suffered ill-treatment while in the government’s custody. Opposition politicians, journalists, protest organizers, and alleged supporters of ethnic insurgencies have all reported torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of Ethiopian authorities, something Ethiopia to this day claims is false.
Ethiopia is primarily a Christian nation with a minority Muslim population. Muslim leaders in the region say they follow traditional Sufi inspired Islam and do not embrace beliefs considered radical or extremist.
The court sentenced 4 activists to 22 years in prison, 5 activists were given an 18 years sentence, 5 other activist received a 15 year prison sentence and 4 were sentenced to 7 years in jail.