SEATTLE – A prominent and controversial activist in the Ethiopian community held an event on Sunday, sparking both support and protests from the community.
Jawar Mohammed, the founder of an independent media network, is traveling across U.S cities ahead of the 2020 elections in Ethiopia.
A few hundred supporters filled the Filipino Community Center to capacity, while hundreds of people rallied against him outside.
Seattle Police shutdown MLK Jr. Way South for several hours and had officers both on foot and on bikes patrolling during the demonstrations.
Protestors claim Mohammed is a “terrorist” and the reason behind violent and deadly attacks in Ethiopia.
“Nowadays, Jawar Mohammed, by collecting a lot of money from different people, he became a cause for the death of people, for the burning of churches and the displacement of a lot of people,” said Beimnet Bekele, a demonstrator.
Molalign Kerebih wants Mohammed to be held accountable for the violence, and says, “To take legal action against him, because he’s the cause for many loss of life. So we want the government to take those legal actions and to protect those innocent people.”
Mohammed has more than 1.7 million followers on Facebook. He streamed his Seattle event live on Facebook.
“He’s a peaceful person, unlike what has been said, because people try to align him with terrorist or ISIS something like that, I’m a Christian and I can’t support ISIS or a terrorist,” said Bizuayahu Hailee, a demonstrator.
“He’s advocating for peace in Ethiopia, for tolerance for the equality of nations and nationalities within Ethiopia, so we are supporting him. We are standing with him,” said Tariku Messele, supporter.
Seattle Police said there were no arrests from Sunday’s protests, and no incidents to note inside Mohammed’s event.