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Coexistence and/or Confrontation?: Towards a Reappraisal of Christian-Muslim Encounter in Contemporary Ethiopia

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This article deals with the genesis and development of Christian-Muslim relations in Ethiopia from the earliest times to the present, with an emphasis on the post-1974 developments in the country. It seeks to demonstrate that these relations were both consensual and conflictual, and that the conventional over-emphasis on the former has obscured—and marginalized and distorted—the occasional confrontational aspects of the relations that also need to be historicized, contextualized and assessed. Examples of both aspects of relations are presented and discussed, and their relevance to the contemporary situation analyzed. In summary, the paper challenges the validity of the concept of peaceful coexistence as the only defining feature of the relations between the Christian and Muslim communities of Ethiopia.

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