There were two major stories out of Ethiopia this week.
First, they have outlawed all forms of VOIP communications. This includes Skype and Google Talk among others.
The new law, which came into effect on 24 May, makes use of Internet voice services punishable by hefty fines and up to 15 years in prison.
The official line from the government is that the move is intended to protect national security and protect the national, state-owned telecoms carrier from losing revenue to Skype and similar services; this, despite the fact that Ethiopia’s fixed-line penetration rate is the second worst in Africa (after Sierra Leone) at an estimated 1% of its 85m strong population.
Ethiopia has instituted numerous restrictions on its digital community in recent years. The government has previously closed down Internet cafes offering voice-over-Internet protocol services and, in December 2006, made it obligatory for Internet cafes to keep records of the names and addresses of their customers in an effort to clamp down on bloggers and other users critical of the regime.
The new law prohibits all VoIP traffic along with audio and video data traffic via social media. The Africa Review reports that the law also gives the government the right to inspect any imports of voice communication equipment and accessories.
The other story involves the pressure Christian leaders are putting on government to pass laws to severely punish homosexuals.
A national conference entitled ‘Homosexuality and its associated social disastrous consequences’ on Saturday (9 June) was held in the newly built African Union headquarters, in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The conference was organised by Dr Seyoum Antonius, president of United for Life, a non-governmental organization which describes itself as Christian, pro-life and backing the sanctity of marriage.
Over 2,000 participants attended the conference, including the main religious leaders of Ethiopia, government officials, members of the Ethiopian Parliament, leaders of political parties, youth organizations and representatives from other civil societies.
During the conference an Ethiopian government spokesman, who GSN has not been able to identify, stated: ‘Recently, the US President Barak Obama, British Prime Minster David Cameron and other western leaders are trying to establish ties between aid and the rights of homosexuals, but this will never happen in Ethiopia.
‘We don’t want their aid as long as it is related to homosexuality, I assure you that Ethiopia has no room for homosexuality and our country will be the graveyard of homosexuality.’
Abune Paulos, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church said: ‘Ethiopians do not need their identity to be dictated for them from outside no matter how wealthy or powerful the forces applying the pressure were.’
He also read a statement of an interfaith grouping of Ethiopia’s religious leaders condemning homosexuality as an unnatural and calling on international bodies to stop attempting to ‘subvert’ Ethiopian traditions.
The statement called upon the Ethiopian government to punish ‘those who are found infested with sodomite activities’ and called for raising awareness how to protect society from this ‘infestation’.
And like most groups like this, they like to use lies to supprt their beliefs.
Dr Seyoum Antonius presented findings of his ‘study’ that ‘proved’ that homosexuality is a result of inappropriate upbringing and leads to STDs, HIV and ‘severe psychological disorders’.
Let’s hear from other Christian leaders condemning these extreme actions.
Listen carefully…… silence.