On November 4, 2013, Saudi Arabia began enforcing a crackdown on illegal immigrants. Saudi Arabia is believed to be home to more than seven million foreign workers and their families. The Saudi government issued an amnesty period in April 2013 giving illegal immigrants seven months to gain legal status or leave the country.
Immigrants from Ethiopia, a Sub-Saharan African country, are one of the most affected by the crackdown, which has resulted in riots and violence. The Ethiopian government is repatriating its citizens living in Saudi Arabia illegally after it was reported that an Ethiopian was killed by Saudi police.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia Tedros Adhanom acknowledged the right of Saudi Arabia to expel illegal immigrants but condemned the use of force and rape against Ethiopian immigrants as it has been reported on different news and social media sites.
A petition has been created on MoveOn.org to alert the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International about the plight of Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia.
Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia online have been using the hashtag #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to condemn the treatment of Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia.
Mahlet (@Mahlet_S) noted that immigrants are not criminals but job seekers:
#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia that immigrants are in their country only looking for jobs and make a living, they are not criminals.
— Mahlet (@Mahlet_S) November 11, 2013
Addis Standard (@addisstandard), a monthly magazine in Ethiopia, wrote:
#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia it takes human moral not religious zealotry to understand what it means to be human!
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) November 12, 2013
Some users revisited the historical relationship between Islam and Ethiopia. Hafsa Mohamed (@hafsamohamed1) pointed out that:
— Hafsa Mohamed (@hafsamohamed1) November 12, 2013
Kali (@KaliDaisyy) wrote:
#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia Ethiopia had opened her hands to the Muslim immigrants from Mecca, persecuted by Quraysh tribe & now they kill us?
— Kali (@KaliDaisyy) November 12, 2013
Pschologist Antonio Mulatu (@AntonZfirst) referred to advice given by Prophet Muhammad about Ethiopia:
— Antonio Mulatu (@AntonZfirst) November 12, 2013
The relatonship between Ethiopia and Muslim dates back to the time when Ethiopia provided a safe haven to Muslims who were fleeing persecution from the rulers of Mecca. Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habash, one of the foremost companions of Muhammad and the first Muezzin, the person who recites the call to prayer, was Ethiopian.
Ethiopia is home to Harar, which is considered the fourth holy city of Islam, with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.
Ethiopia is also the site of the First Hijrah, the migration of Muslims to escape persecution, in the history of Islam.
However, anoof (@anoofesh) from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, disagreed with the comparison between Ethiopia immigrants in Saudi Arabia and Muslim immigrants in Ethiopia:
@KaliDaisyy The muslim immigrants were not in Ethiopia illegally :)
— anoof (@anoofesh) November 12, 2013
Melak Mekonen (@melak_m) observed that:
#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia :You have a right to address irregular migration, but not to abuse, kill, persecute!
— Melak Mekonen (@melak_m) November 12, 2013
Lee Jasper (@LeeJasper), a member of Respect Party in the UK, saw the plight of Ethiopian immigrants similar to that of Palestinians under Israeli occupation:
— Lee Jasper (@LeeJasper) November 12, 2013
جبرتينهو (@iabj) opined:
#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia Foreigners are not slaves and that poverty is not a defect
— جبرتينهو (@iabj) November 12, 2013
Ethiopian human rights specialist based in Geneva, Switzerland, Yehenew Walilegne (@YeheneWalilegne) opposed Saudi Arabia's candidacy to the United Nations Human Rights Council:
— Yehenew Walilegne (@YeheneWalilegne) November 12, 2013
Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Cuba won seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, November 12, 2013.
anoof told Ethiopians:
— anoof (@anoofesh) November 12, 2013