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Interfaith Programs

European Interfaith Group Visits Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - An interfaith group of four Europeans arrived in Ethiopia on June 29, 2012, for a series of meetings with religious leaders and youth groups.

The visitors included Robert Williamson, UPF-Balkans; Ashley Crosthwaite, International Relief Friendship Foundation-UK; Aftikhar Ahmed, Ambassador for Peace, UPF-Scotland; and Patrick Crosthwaite, UPF-UK youth leader.

They visited historic sites northwest of Addis Ababa, including the Portuguese Bridge, a site of conflict between Christians and Muslims five centuries ago, and the Debre Libanos Monastery and Cathedral. The Debre Libanos Monastery founded in the thirteenth century by Saint Tekle Haymanot. According to legend, he prayed in a cave for seven years and stood on one foot for so long that the other foot fell off. Sick people line up to receive holy water from the cave. The nearby church contains holy relics. The area, including the monastery, suffered great destruction in the sixteenth century when a Somali imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, invaded Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was one of the first areas of the world to officially adopt Christianity, and Christians constitute about 63 percent of the population. Most are Ethiopian Orthodox. About a third of the population are Muslims.

The European interfaith delegation met with the supreme leader of the Muslim Council of Ethiopia and the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. In addition, they gave presentations to youth organizations.

Zambia, Malawi, and Uganda are the other three nations on the three-week itinerary.

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