Ethiopian phobia rages on -(LOCAL VIEWPOINT)

Last updated: Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:31 PM
Mazen Abdul Razziq Baleelah

Following a number of murders and other crimes, attempts by some housemaids to kill children and the recent riots in Manfuha in Riyadh and Siteen St. in Jeddah, a large number of Saudi citizens have become wary of the Ethiopian community here. Most Ethiopians are peaceful and law-abiding but the repeated stories about violent acts by Ethiopians have made us wary of them.

The security forces have nabbed more than 60,000 Ethiopian violators in various parts of the Kingdom who were handed over to the department concerned with detaining and deporting expatriates which now belongs to the Directorate General of Prisons. So far, about 30,000 illegal Ethiopians have been deported. The department continues to receive illegal Ethiopians including women and children. It is providing them with food, water and medical care.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has operated 21 flights since the start of the crackdown campaign to transport illegal Ethiopians to their country. The airline said that13 flights were made from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah while eight flights were made from King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh.

This is all good news which should have pacified Saudis but in fact it did not. The Ethiopian phobia is still very much alive in Saudi society. This phobia may not be imaginary as it has been reported that a number of security men who were asked by the criminal evidence department to fingerprint Ethiopians accommodated in an old building of Princess Nora University in Riyadh were attacked. The security men had to escape through the openings for  air conditioners. They tired to pacify the angry Ethiopians but when they failed they had to run for their lives. Many of them were hurt while attempting to escape.

The ongoing deportation of illegal Ethiopians should relieve Saudis of their fears but in fact it has not done so. The Ethiopian phobia may be with us for quite some time.

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