Students at Ethiopia's top religious college are protesting the close ties between the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the government, alleged restictions on their speech — and American singer Beyonce's recent meeting with their patriarch.
The 26-year-old performer met with the Ethiopian patriarch, Abune Paulos, before performing in skimpy sequined outfits as part of celebrations of the country's millennium, which fell in September according to the church's calendar.
Daniel Techale, a 28-year-old Theological College of the Holy Trinity alumnus who lives at the college, said he was not protesting but that around 30 of his friends had been hospitalized after a hunger strike they began on Sunday. He said students were upset by the church's closeness to the ruling party and restrictions on their speech, but that they also were upset over the Beyonce-Paulos meeting.
"She provoked the whole situation," he said, accusing the patriarch of "practically a non-religious act. It's unacceptable, or inappropriate, to say the least."
Authorities were trying to persuade the students to end their hunger strike, he said...
Not all the students were concerned with the singer, or even politics. Student Kinetibebeu Assefa, 25, said that he had joined the protest to demand an improvement in cafeteria food and demand the firing of some college officials.
"There is no problem with Beyonce," he said. "But the (cafeteria) food is poisoned."
College official Bedilu Assefa confirmed that students had complained, but said: "What they have done is they have raised some administrative issues regarding food and clinical facilities. Nobody has protested against Beyonce. Never." (continue)