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Isaias: A Cult Leader Surrenders

On December 20, 2011, reporting on the meeting of the Eritrean regime’s so-called Cabinet of Ministers, Asmelash, the mouthpiece of the regime recited (among many other personal declarations of Isaias) that the tyrant had given new directives to his servile cabinet ministers. This is what Asmelash reported:

…President Isaias continued, since it is an obligation and a right of every student to lean the Arabic language, and since in the previous years the methods that were applied to teach Arabic have been regressive and unproductive, a new system of teaching that should enable students to become proficient in Arabic should be implemented, if possible within one year and if not within two years, and [to that effect] President Isaias gave firm instruction to the ministry of education to set up a task force that would carry out this study and follow up its application and implementation…[1]

Never mind the long sentence, it is how it came in the usual PFDJ Tigrinya. Never mind the picture of the meeting which like always shows “ministers” taking notes as in a high school exam setting, and their leader giving them lessons like a teacher. But regardless of all that, the policy switch is significant for those of us who have been seriously struggling to expose the damaging policies of the PFDJ, the sole legal party in Eritrea. This change of policy could be related to a diplomatic maneuver being attempted by an Arab leader who is a close ally of Isaias. The Arab leader is said to have been advising Isaias to join the Arab League to supplement the loss of support that Gadaffi and Mubarek offered him in the past. It is very possible that Isaias is paving the way to formally apply membership to the Arab League—a league that would become more dysfunctional once the mentally disturbed Isaias is added to its ranks. For God’s sake, this is a league that couldn’t do anything tangible to alleviate the suffering of so many Arabs at the hands of tyrants. Look at Yemen and Syria for the obvious exhibit.

Finally, after two-decades of wreaking havoc, the Eritrean tyrant indirectly admitted guilt for the damage he inflicted on the Eritrean people with one of his many bigoted policies. Finally, he instructed his lieutenants in the rubber stamp Eritrean cabinet of ministers to adopt the policy that he mischievously evaded for decades. Finally, one night he dreamed of a policy and the next day he made it a law. Finally, it dawned on him that the issue will never evaporate into thin air.

Eritreans have enough experience with “Nsu” (Isaias) to be aware that his motive is neither genuine nor noble; he just hopes his moody policy will serve as a calming pill to those who oppose his policy, a policy that had a crippling effect on his regime. Finally, he seems to have recognized he cannot murder Arabic and live in peace— it is a foundation of Eritrea and it is deeply-rooted in the Eritrean psyche, more than his sick attitude, more than the roots of his insane self.

The following is what I have been saying in many words, in all my speeches and writing: “If the PFDJ had adopted a dual education language policy in 1993, today we will have all Eritreans, regardless of their region and religion, speaking fluent Arabic and Tigrinya.” Well, that was not meant to be. Unfortunately after long years of struggle and many sacrifices, Eritrea ended up with a sick man at the helm of power instead of a visionary leader.

Defining The Isaias Regime

So far, defining the Isaias regime has been controversial; and, over the last few months, I have been developing a rough theory that would hopefully help in defining the PFDJ cult regime—I will share my theory with my readers at a later stage. For now, let’s agree that the Isaias domain is nothing but the PFDJ cult. PFDJ, the sole legal party in Eritrea, is a cult, and Isaias Afwerki, its sole leader with super rights, is the cult leader.

In a cult, setting, “members’ adulation of charismatic leaders contribute[s] to the leaders becoming corrupted by power.”[2] Cults depend heavily on brainwashing their members who always get their marching orders from their leader; they never change their message or slogans until he does. When he does, they never think of what they have been parroting and switch to the new message with no feeling of guilt or shame. If the cult leader says the sky is red, they will argue to death that it is red. If the next day he says the sky is green, they will condescendingly argue it is green and “rebuff” anyone who argues otherwise. They totally ignore the fact that, until the previous day, they had claimed the sky was red—no apologies, no recognition of their past confusion, and certainly no humility at all.

Until the era of Youtube, the PFDJ cult used to sell VHS tapes of all the meetings and festivals that they held. Every member was pressured and harassed to buy a copy to the extent that cult members memorized the number and the titles of the many tapes by heart. You might not find a shelf of books in the house of the cult members, but you most certainly will find a library of every tape the cult produced. Very few tapes were not distributed because they were found to be too embarrassing, or too telling of the nature of the cult and its leaders. That is when the cult lieutenants intervened and censored the tapes[3]. One such tape is the recording of a cult meeting that Isaias held in Washington DC in 1993.

The tape of that meeting was not distributed because the lieutenants decided to hide the embarrassing situation where the cult leader and his assistants appeared totally wasted in the pre-meeting function held in their honor.2 That day, Isaias appeared behind a table with his close associate Mahmoud Sheriffo (now “disappeared” and most likely dead) to his right, and Hagos Kisha (the party bag man, now on the UN watch list and soon to be on its list of forbidden travelers) to his left. The cult members in the crowd who packed the meeting hall were too excited to notice the drunk nature of their leader; and if they did, it was normal to them. Only a short clip of the recording of that meeting found its way to Youtube. In that clip, you can watch Isaias shamelessly vomiting his bigotry in public.[4]

Until well into the meeting, the cult had no idea that their leader will surprise them with statements that will massage their ego by making wild bigoted statements. When he did, they were ecstatic with joy, laughing and cheering wildly. In a language dripping with mockery and hatred, the cult leader insulted, and degraded a section of the Eritrean people in a manner reminiscent of what his predecessors, the bigoted kings of Ethiopia, had done. He poured his venom belittling two young Eritreans (a woman in Muslim garb speaking fluent Tigrinya and a man who doesn’t speak the language) when they asked about the situation of the dual official languages of Eritrea, reminding him that in a supposedly independent Eritrea, half the population should not be left behind for lack of a language of communication with the government.

In an idiotic remark, Isaias chastised the two citizens for asking questions in the question time of the meeting! He rudely remarked: “It is surprising to see Tigrinya speakers who do not want to speak their language but opt for Arabic!” He poured his bigoted wrath at a section of the Eritrean people; everyone knew his targeted group. No one challenged him for the lies and his misconstruing of facts. He knew and so did his listeners that there are no Tigrinya speakers who refuse to speak their language. Yet, he victimized the two citizens who respectfully asked him to maintain the Arabic and Tigrinya dual language arrangement for the sake of the Eritrean unity! Surely he remained in character: true to his cult beliefs, its destructive, exclusionary policies and practices. He replied in the only manner he know how: rude and chastising.

While all this was going on in the hall, the crowd had no reaction but to continue being entertained. Not many questioned the sanity of their leader; not many questioned if his pronouncements were becoming of a head of state; no one thought it was their compatriots being insulted in public by a leader who was supposed to be the president of all Eritreans. On the contrary, like any obedient cult members, they just registered what he said in their mind, internalized it, and kept repeating his bigotry for the last two decades, and still continue to do so. With their attitudes, they damaged what was left of the harmony among Eritreans and they kicked their marginalization and exclusion project with full force.

What possessed them to do so.  How do the cult view the cult leader?  Why is it taking them many decades to wake up? Are they now going to repeat what Asmelash recited on the regime-owned television on December 20? Time will tell!

The Cult Was Already Formed

In 1989, long before the euphoric years of the early nineties, and the above mentioned meeting of 1993, Isaias conducted a public meeting in Washington DC. By then the formation of the cult was well established.  An attendant of that meeting emotionally describes Isaias as follows: “After I heard him, I recognized that he was a blend of all freedom fighters, dead and alive, and of the convictions of all the Eritrean peoples: peasants, nomads, literate and illiterate. I heard the voice of wisdom in our land, of the peasantry and the indomitable spirit of all the Eritrean fighters”[5]

It is understandable that some might go out of their way in expressing their passionate love for Isaias in that euphoric time; but the bigoted Isaias never represented the spirit of Eritreans or their wisdom. His destructive actions and tactics were opposed and criticized by many since the early seventies. Unfortunately, even those who found out his real character too late are not willing to abandon the cult policies despite the chaos and damage they inflicted on Eritrea and its people. And that forces one to conclude that they are no different from their leader: bigoted, arrogant, insincere, racists and foul-mouthed.

Not just Isaias alone, but they too are the cause of our current predicament: a state of mistrust, disharmony and disarray. The cult members are those who flocked to see their cult leader by travelling thousands of miles, never questioning his damaging policies, his injustices and his brutality—his enablers flocked in their hundreds to New York last September to hear him speak. Only a few brave Eritrean souls demonstrated outside the meeting place to expose the tyrant and shame his enablers who endorse his brutality and lawlessness by sloganeering: He’s Us and We’re Him! Such lack of dignity and servitude, such dead conscience is really difficult to understand in this age unless one identifies the Eritrean regime as Isaias’ PFDJ cult. And ironically, the words that always comes out of the cult members’ mouth is “national unity!” In the language of the rascal Isaias, one would be tempted to say, “unity my foot.”

In an interview that the cult leader had in 1987, Isaias stated that he, “learned Arabic to be able to communicate with [his] brothers in the field.”[6]  But in 1993, he condescendingly humiliated the two citizens: “do you speak Arabic in your homes?” What he doesn’t know was that in fact one of them might. The issue here calls for scrutiny: why did Isaias need to learn Arabic to communicate with his “brothers” and then make fun of those who are his “brothers” and who can only communicate with him in Arabic? Why does he want to deny Eritreans to communicate with their “brothers” in the language they use to communicate with each other?

 The Surrender Of The Cult Leader

Now that the cult leader has surrendered and gave his directives to the ministry of education to teach Arabic, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to rejoice and say, ‘thank you papa Isaias, one concession, now continue to rule just like nothing happened?’ Hell no. He just can’t simply evade accountability for the decades of polarization he created; for the uprooting of people; for destroying the co-existence formula that Eritreans religiously kept; for causing the decay of the little education system that Eritrea had; for creating generations of illiterate youth; for denying Eritrea the resources of its children; for breaking the dream of our nation. Hell no. The damage that was done cannot be remedied by a policy switch that Isaias adopts in a hangover state after a wild liquor-drenched night.

The Arabs say, “Afa Allah An Ma Selef”…Let bygones be bygones, even God forgives the mistakes of the past. All right, let God forgive him, together with any repentant, it is not our business. Wronged people have a right to claim justice for the wrongdoing.

In 1993 when the Eritrean land was liberated, large numbers of the population were school age children. If not for Isaias’ bigoted policy, today every Eritrean under the age of 37 would have been fluent in both Arabic and Tigrinya languages. And anyone below the age of 44 would have proper conversational skill in two languages. Add to that the number of those who are already bilingual, well over 80 percent of Eritreans would have been bilingual. Of course, that assumes the educational standards, and illiteracy rates would have been far better than they are now—and if not for Isaias’ sick policies they would have been so.  But Isaias can only do what Isaias knows best: destruction and chaos.

Finally, can now we say that Isaias conceded, nay, we can say he surrendered and admitted that the bigoted policy he imposed on Eritrea was nothing less than destructive? Of course, he wouldn’t be Isaias if he openly admitted the damages he inflicted on the nation, but his switch of policy confirms just that: he surrendered to the view that all Eritreans (except the bigoted) hold. But whatever he does, one cannot hire a pickpocket for a position of a bank manager.

[1] (6:30 mark) accessed on December 24, 2011
[2] Benjamin Zablocki, a professor of Sociology at Rutgers University,
[3] A source knowledgeable of the event informed the author.
[4] (accessed on December 24, 2011
[5] Illen Gebrai, Eritrea, Miracleland, self-published in 1993, P7
[6] Ahmed Mohammed Nasser, Tahadyat Messiryah Imam AlMujtama’a Al Eritry, self published, P82

About Saleh "Gadi" Johar

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  • Mohmoud S


    The Muslim-Dominance-Through-Arabic pact, was there to free you from the dwarf, Haile Selassei, and it did. As I already anticipated, you have difficulties understanding this relation because of your narrow knowledge of your own region. Be sure this is not about Islam as you want it to be, but about historical, cultural and religious influences across borders, as yours is to tigray. Tell me why Eritrea was divided into two main blocks during the 50s, Hebret and Rabita Alislamia if it was not influenced by the Orthodox Ethiopian government and the Arab Islamic culture? So, if you want to be saved from Arabs and Salafists as you said, know your own history and learn how to deal with it. Coexistence by respecting other’s choice is the best solution for the new Eritrea. Ask me to elaborate on my proposal!

    • Tekhlihaimanot Weldu

      It is uncalled for to provoke and to viciously and mlice attacks toward highlanders-lowlanders,chritians-muslims,specialy all these nonsense insults toward geberti and hamasien etc. Who benefits-gains from all this nonsence. After all who gave you, him, her (i included) the right to insult any ethnic, tribe, province and religion which made Eritrea as a whole.It is safe to say the opposition following the road of self distraction. kibri nisematatna.

    • Metera

      i like it and it is true.

  • Daniel

    I have not got any meaningfult opinion from you people. We have other timely issues than language. I found you rusty and foul mouthed.

    • Don.

      to wesero Dr.beranu chair moman of the hawsa mahber kenanat.Becareful using the rabital al islamia word.The exact meaning of it is,exclusive group or associetion of muslims.This is what drove some powerful highlander to hunt you all over Eritrea,to choose mahber andnet christian union with ethiopia to counter attack to your kheyat sarto shekati halawat geberti.It took us long time to bring highlanders back.Gahteten aiti beli ernib elki kof beli.or you will be treated like one.

      • Mohmoud

        Sarto and Halawat enabled ordinary decent people to reinstate respectable values. Better than Brothel and Escort any way.

      • Kokhob Selam

        please don’t talk in this way in such wonderful time of our revolution. we Christians and Muslims are united. leave the space for us.

  • Mohmoud

    To Mr.guest:
    Do you mean those who chose Sharia Low for family dispute would be entitled to your tigrinya too?? If you need my advise, ask yourself about why people chose Arabic. I help you but not all the way; the choice of Arabic is a result of the cultural war you try to ignite. Your choice of tigrinya give access only to tigray (the border that you never dare to go through). The choice of Arabic give the access to the Red Sea, Yemen S. Arabia, The Sudan, Egypt, Djibouti and many more. Still, do you think your tigrinya will face this huge influences?? I know that you don’t know this reality because you are far from it, up on the mountains of kabasa, small society with no access to anywhere but a scattered dream of tigray-tigrinya. You see those you think are stupid, are connected to these huge cultures of the region unlike you. How stupid would be, if they chose tigrinya with no access especially those days. Now don’t take risk and invite for a cultural war, it will only be embarrassing. Do you remember the Hebret/andebet pact or wayane/selfnasenet pact, what was this based on?? Was it successful? Who is the ally of tigrinya people today?? if no one, do you dare to impose tigrinya to Arab influenced ethnic eritrean with endless access to the region? This is your homework!!!

    • Kokhob Selam

      Haaaa.I think some may even tell us Tigrigna should be national language of Arab countries. But let them dream and we don’t pay for it. The truth is Tigrigna will not serve even half of our population.

    • Semay Zihagerikum

      We have done our homework long time ago and we won’t redo it. I am talking about the peace loving society, not the domineering ones like the junta in power and your wanna-be future leaders of the country.

      How about your rotten, centuries old policy of Muslim-Dominance-Thru-Arabic pact? That is how all you people sound when you raise the issue of Arabic-be-an-official language over all other burning National issues.

      No one has a problem with Arabic as long as you don’t start to tell me that you are opting Arabic because you are a Muslim. It’s scary! For all I know, a world created under the influence of people who think alongside of religion, whichever religion it is, is not gonna be my world. Why do you give us Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, and Yemen as good neighbors whom we like to interact with without any caution? Do they have any experience of a positive influence that is worth of importing in. The Salafis of Egypt, the Saudis who are the so-called Muslim leaders of the world who can not tolerate even a single expat with a Christian name and who live in the 10th century in modern palaces? What are you trying to say? Trade relationships? We can do it any way, with or without Arabic.

      Time and again, Arabic language is not a problem as long as we need a second national language, but do not condescend your language, be it Tigrinya, Tigre + the other 6-7 because they won’t help you communicate with your neighbors. It doesn’t make sense; and please do not hide your deep-embedded need in dominating other cultures under the pretext of we-are-Muslims-and-Arabic-should- be-our-language theme. It’s just an agenda NOT a right you are raising that way. Mind you, millions are watching you closely where you heading with all your religion based political parties! You know how and why Hebret/Andenet or Weyane/Selfi-Nasenet were created, though they don’t always had the support of every Eritrean from highland (or Christians if that is how you like to call it).

      Let’s live and let live and do not threaten with dominance while you begin your struggle for equal representation and democratic rule. Shout for equality, people will follow you, shout for dominance, people will shun you to the end! Peace be upon you and peace and prosperity to the Eritrean masses!

      • fetaw hageru

        To semay zihagerikum
        It is upto you to be a pagan or what ever but you should have some respect to the relegion of the the majority of the eritreans ‘ISLAM’ I know you and people like you never admit this fact for two reasons firstly becouse of ignorance secondly becouse it doesn’t suite you.
        you are the last person to talk about equality !
        first you have to admit that today’s Eritrea is dominated by the tigringa interms of language, culture, Job apportunity …endless list so pls work with fetewti hager to bring much farer government in eritrea where all eritreans can live in peace and harmoney regardless of theire ethnic groupe or religion and let us clean the mess!!!

      • ALHAGIGA

        DEAR SEMAY
        The Muslims of Eritrea they don;t have hidden agenda , the Eritrean history actually proves the contrary.since the days of Hatze Yohannes and his fated declaration , that all who live under my empire should convert to Christianity, that intolerance cost many Muslims their life , others fled and sought refuge in Eritrea, and in recent history the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Sellaise and head of the Orthodox church never recognized Islam as official religion despite more than 50% of the population of Ethiopia are Muslims, and there was only one muslim minister in the cabinet,as student in 60s&70s in Keren the Islamic holidays was only for Muslim students to celebrate with their families a day or two while Christians had to attend classes and the government offices were business us usual, Islam was not officially recognized religion, what about today do you know that there is no minister from Ben Amer or Habab or Afar or Nara or Kunama in this government, so it is simple untrue , unrealistic to accuse Muslims of hidden agenda.
        As far as Andnet is concerned it was formed two years before Islamic league,it was formed in 1944 and the other in 1946 in Keren, by that time already money and weapons were provided to Andnet from Ethiopia, and Andnet slogan ETHIOPIA WAY MOT and unfortunately we got both, Ethiopia come first and followed death and destruction and no body was spared.
        My dear Semay you don’t see any good influence from our neighbors,don’t you know that for centuries our religious leaders both Muslims and Christians went to Egypt for religious education both in Alexandria and Cairo university of Alazhar which is 1000 years old university.
        Yemen as neighbor their influence is that they gave us Geez which tigrinia was born from its womb.
        The USA and Saudi Arabia they have mutual interest and religion is a cover up for the ordinary man to believe, there are thousands upon thousands of Christians from different countries live in Saudi Arabia including Eritreans same of my friends still live there, your claim has no merit it is all misinformation ,as far as Sudan is concerned there is no adequate words nor enough pages to express my deepest gratitude to the Sudanese people and their generosity ,our neighbors are our brothers whether they are Tigrians Arabs Amhars Oromo and the rest ,keep love in your heart and it will lead you to happiness, hate only destroys those who carry such a negative feeling, open your mind and heart and you will be abetter person in life.

  • Fekrawi

    Here you go ..the article shows the shallowness of oppostition politics and how easily they succumb to the “goldern words” of the dictator more than anything else. the article celebrating DIA “surrunder” as a result of the news that the dictator is mending a policy on TV interview is not only premature but also shows how the opposition of DIA really are not well equiped to forsee the change that the people of Eritrea need now. there is no point celebrating that johar is right and DIA is wrong ..we all know that DIA is not only wrongful but also evil. Infact this might be counterproductive as we really need to get rid of the dictator and bring change now instead of waiting for him to change.

  • What language are we talking about, verbal, written or electronic/sound or other means of communication. The Eritreans are becoming more primitive every decade. Why is that? I believe because they dwell on irrelevant issues and outdated histories. It seems that TIME and SPACE do not change Eritreans. Discuss about time and space and you will communicate. Discuss about languages, you will die with your mother languages. If you want to preserve your mother tongue, teach to your children at home, and if you want to communicate with government, business or corporation, take the high ground not the local ground. Everyday, languages are born, grow and die. It will be with Tigrigna and Arabic.

    What I prefer is a discussion on political rights, the rights of the Jeberti community and the rights of those who want to live in the country of the thirteen months of sunshine. History tell us that those Eritreans who moved North learned Arabic and those who moved South have learned Amharic. They are the one who are making fuss about languages. Those who want to Eat by speaking Arabic let them do so and those who want to eat speaking Amharic, let them do so. In other words EAT stands for English Arabic/Amharic Tigrigna. Chill guys. Learn instead of charging and counter-charging. Thanks

  • Selamat,

    The learned priest who gave the touching speech (clip on the right), starts with an Arabic proverb about death. My elementary teacher for Amharic, a priest as well, spoke fluent Arabic. We know both religious scholars for Orthodox and Islam gravitate to Egypt for learning their respective religions and learn in Arabic. So we should not be allergic from that vantage.

    If a strong case is made by 8+ tribes of Eritrea and their interest is best served by Arabic for economical and social reason (add to that substantial constituent of their members have already been educated in Arabic) and they opted for it as a common language as they have used it in the past as medium for communication, what is the fuss if that is what they want?

    The above article is pointing a failed policy, well even DIA seems to accept it for whatever reason, the case for Arabic has been well made in the past two articles by Saleh, it is not a privilege to be sought, if there is a demand by a sizeable constituent opting for Arabic, we are not going for force feed each other what we do not want. So let people use Chinese if they so wish!

    Wish you all a happy new year

  • Abreham

    In 1965 I was in Cairo for seminar on animal husbandry and health. There I met an Somali participant. On our discussion my first question for him was, why do you choose in Somalia to use arabic as an official language?As in Eritrea I would have supported to learne in school but advocate to be an official language I donnot see any justification for it. It as it is said above iferiority or it is “adia gedifas hatinea tinafik”>

    • Kokhob Selam

      “adia gedifas hatinea tinafik”
      Dear Mr.Abraham
      It might be for you “hatinekha” but for me Arabic is Adey. So why you have to chose for me another mother? This is the reason we let our people chose. Things should be handled carefully. Even PFDJ leadership don’t like Arabic as deep inside PFDJ thinks talking Arabic is religious (ISLAMIC) Yet, PFDJ still use the game to prolong its life.
      Let me give you an example similar to yours. once I ask one Muslim (Jeberti) Eritrean why his name is MOHAMED.. Why not MSGUN,TEMSGEN which is similar in Tigrigna. He clarifies to me the reason. He is a Muslim from Highland and he uses both languages (Arabic & Tigrigna). Doesn’t matter if I am convinced or not. I don’t have to chose his name he has freedom to have a name in any language. That is where we are heading, toward freedom of people.

  • sara

    who are those claiming to represent a vast number Eritreans?, who gave them the authority to speak on behalf of half the population?, was there any study made what languages Eritreans want to use as an official language?, what are the pros and cones of having Arabic language for all Eritreans instead of their mother language?. why is this issue taking precedence to other important national issues?.what is the experience of this issue in SOMALI, DJIBOUTI,SUDAN,ALGERIA,IRAQ,and now Libya, Syria, Morocco,,etc?
    there is now a lot of internal debate in the ARAB WORLD on this issue… are we following it?
    i would like to hear from those debating in favor of Arabic language… may be we could learn something new…

    • sara

      what is the experince of SOMALIA … DJEBUTE…..IRAQ…. SYRIA… REGARDING THIS ISSUES…

      • Kokhob Selam

        wowwww Sara big Goal.. are they supposed to use Tigrgna as national language becouse Arabic didn’t help them ?

        Simply use Tigringa as national language becouse this is your choice. and let me also use Arabic language just it is my choice. agreed. give me freedom and take your freedom.

        • sara

          the question is what is the experience of Somalia… Djibouti… and others regarding Arabic as an official language…. just tell us what you know… don’t go some where else….. for your information… i speak Arabic too…
          and tigrina..and i am not opposing the Arabic language to be used in Eritrea, because we already do… so get to the point… what is the experience of the countries i mentioned above….

          • Kokhob Selam

            Sara, I don’t know much. but it should not be difficult for us to know if we read about each countries experience though internet or any other facilities we get. Regarding your knowledge in Arabic language you don’t have to tell me but you can put you knowledge in to practice for the advantage of our country. In our original culture (which was not contaminated by PFDJ) people don’t say I know but put it into reality and show. So be calm and teach people who don’t know Arabic.

  • gud

    We are not arabic so we do not need any arab language to learn period.


      Dear Abraham & Sara
      I am sure my brother A braham was representing the government of his Emperor Haile Selaise in 1965 in Cairo, while the Saho villages in Akeleguzai , Samhar ,the lowlands of Eritrea were on fire from the occupier ,and who have the inferiority those who voted for independence or those who voted for colonization under Ethiopia ,and who were praying and fasting for seven days for the Emperor and who was the comandos and malitias [ banda bisharqu ] ,while I was student in Keren in 60s & 70s the highest marks in Amharic is usually achieved by Tigrina speakers, they were very eager and very interested in learning Amharic while the lowlanders used to give the teacher hard time,johnny come lately calling Muslims we have inferiority when it comes to nationalism read a book called AYINIFELALE you will learn about your history, as far as GUD is concerned you are not an arab fair enough and I AM NOT AGAME to accept a poor language like tigrinia to be imposed on me, it doesn’t have numeracy of its own and borrowed Amharic alphabet,and any way tigrina is half Arabic, why shouldn’t I speak Arabic instead, very rich language and it is one of the six official languages of UNO and more than 300 million people speak this language in our region, including very rich oil countries. what is Tigrinia to provide Eritea except another twenty years of misery and mismanagement of the country the failure of this regime has a lot to do with historical fears and mistrust of others ,Arabs are our neighbors we share with them religion Islam and Christianity ,we traveled to Egypt both Muslims and Christians for religious education ,during armed struggle it is Iraq, Syria,Libya,Somalia, UAE, and most of all Sudan which accommodated more than half million refugees and our organizations used to run their political activities openly,during the war with Wayne it is Libya which provided weapons and military transport air craft which was very important especially during the battle of Asab . Arabic language will be official language with Tigrinia it is a matter of when and not if , and Eritrean Muslims are not in business of discussing their rights with same one whose right has been guaranteed for those smart they will be bi lingual but those with complexes they will be victims of their ignorance and will not go for word in life.

      • sara

        ya abu hagiga…
        i asked few points in my posting, because i found it useful we communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts, and your reply pointed to me has non of this….look i don’t mind… any one… to choose in what ever language he wants to speak as long as those involved are able to understand him…. in fact now we are trying our best to communicate through this medium in English….may be some day… in the future you or your children may wish to learn to use mandarin/Chinese if it becomes necessarily, so if Arabic language has relevance to any Eritrean for what ever reason… he can choose Arabic to talk in Arabic… in fact i do, as many Eritreans. so where is the problem?
        again i would like you to share with us your thoughts or the information you may have what… is the experience of Somalia… Djibouti… Sudan… Iraq… etc when it comes to official Arabic language.

        • ALHAGIGA

          Dear Sara
          It is nice of you to acknowledge that every Eritrean has the right to speak what ever language that suits him/her that is the point of our conflict, is Arabic relevant to Eritreans? well ask Isais why he learned Arabic if it is not relevant in the social and political life of Eritreans.
          As far as Somalia ,Djibouti, Iraq is concerned your question is so vague to answer it , how ever you should know that every country is different and it solves its problem as it sees it fit, today the regime is in its way out, the good and peace loving Eritreans will unite to save their country from disintegration ,the people of Erop who are Christians and speak Saho and they live at the border preferred to be part of Ethiopia than Eritrea and they become Ethiopian citizens, the Afar and the Kunama feel the injustices falling upon them and they request the right of self determination,all that is coming due to ignorance and sheer arrogance of the regime and its supporters which mostly are emotional support , otherwise how could any one support a regime with no constitutions, no parliament to represent the people no independent judiciary and free press .
          It is time for this regime to go, and to install truly democratic state which represents all Eritreans from different back ground and walks of life,for better Eritrea for all of us.

    • Kokhob Selam

      gud, you can’t represent others. Say “I am not Arab”. Be democratic and moderate don’t put the word period because you are not allowed to decide for 5million people. Please don’t take it personal it is the truth only.
      This subject has made Haileselase crazy then Mengstu and even people among us. But we can’t escape from truth and we need to face it. If we will not able to see things from all corners and solve it properly, life will be difficult. The solution is the road toward democracy.

    • fetaw hageru

      to gud
      if you are not an arab !!!well…….
      what about the ERITREAN ARABS they didnot choose to be arabs but they were borne arabs or they are offspring of arabs same like you didn’t choose your dad to be from tigray !!! but when it comes to choose our official language we have same rights.
      grow up!!!!!

  • zewuy

    Arabic is not the official language of Eritrea at all,it is the language of one ethinc group rashaida, so it can’t represent the other ethinc groups,which have their own languages, or it can not represent the whole muslim of Eritrea. so, Everythinic group language should be equal to Tigrigana language,there is no domination over other 8 ethinc group languages period. Moreover, it is wrong to chooce arabic language an official languge of all muslimes becouse it is not the motherlanguage of every eritrean muslim, except for ethinc group Rashaida, and it can represent them as their own language.If the Eritrean muslim choice the arabic languge, it can represent them for their common religiouse purpous. As Eritreans, if we honestly went to select the official languge of the country, we should have to put all nine ethinic languges to official langueges selection candidate, then we can select the two official languages depent up on how many percent of the population speaking the languge, and follow othe criteria. Therefore, Tigrigna vs Tigre, Saho vs Tigre, Bilen vs nara, or kunama vs Rashaida(Arabic), we can select easly, with out any problem, if the peple of eritrea choice is Kunama and rashaida (arabic) as an official languge, we should have to accept it with out any issues, vote is power, belive in vote. Besides, I agreed with brother semay Zihagerkum, when he say some few muslim friends have dream of having an imposed SHARIA LAW in Asmara,on the highlands and all over Eritrea. Yes, it is their(muslim) right to use sharia law in their religious (privet) if they choice it, but it very bad dream and very dengerious for the non muslim Eritreans.So becarefull , no joke with fire

    • Mohmoud S

      What if the majority of Eritrean ethnic chose Arabic, would you still dream of imposing tigrinya?
      I am asking you this question because the Bin Amir in barka, habab in sahel, the people of samhar, afar, saho, hedareb, marja, betjuk, Baria/nara and majority of jebrta want Arabic beside their ethnic languages. This is the real statistics for Arabic, if you dare, make a referendum, you will see what you get. Your rashaida argument for Arabic is not representative one for the choice of Arabic in Eritrea, not at all.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Zewuy, do you agree with me that we should let people chose? Visit your friends today from other ethnic groups. And ask them if they will like to see Arabic language spoken in Eritrea. I am sure you will find all will accept Arabic. So why you guys is worried about it. You can talk Tigrigna use it as national language too. Why some people are afraid of Arabic I really don’t know.

    • fetaw hageru

      To zewuy
      in one respect you are write ‘NO JOKE WITH FIRE’ but unfortunately this is doing isayas afwerki ‘one man show’ one relegion, one language, one tigrigna ‘hade lebi’….
      But sooner or later all Eritreans will go to the ballot ‘which language should be Eritrea’s official language (9) languages ?’ and all of us should be bold enough to accept the result will you ?

  • Zelela

    Keep the conversation alive. I don’t think there is a simple solution as to what the national language should be. As far as I am concerned it would be fatal to tell me to learn Arabic in my forties. I am an Eritrean but I have no clue about Arabic . The only word I know is ” Merhaba” and I am still not sure whether that is Arabic. I think we will eventually need a referendum on which language to use.

    • fetaw hageru

      to Zelela
      I say to you MERHABA in arabic as i can see you are an open minded person and i say to you never too late to learn any thing specially for some one like you.

  • wed. garza

    Well narated brother Gadi
    I think Isayas has started a new scene to stage himself in a bid to buy time. He has already built a wall of iron between the two segments of the eritrean society, that’s, the damage is already real and hurting. Hatred has been on the meny againt that language and now it’s reciprocal by both.The medicine is longer in his hands.
    Nor can one trust this idiotry expression by this president any longer. He can not and will certainly not chose what the other party of our segment wants. Let him count them fools, yet they know What to teach to their children, whom they love most in this world. Arabic is there to prevail….

  • what is the message behind PAI to teach Arabic language in new education system?
    first of all AI learned the language himself, which is a credit. but the problem is that he learned it to use it in achieving his Machiavellian objectives. while in the other way we ourselves learned Tigrinya to get job in home land , we mastered it and we are proud of that because it is an important part of the Eritrean mosaic. but after time we found ourselves becoming foreigners in our own land and we become second class citizens. the government, the policies, the ministries, the officials, the government cultures and practices from bottom to top does not look or reflects the Eritrean diversity. this not the Eritrea we dreamed all our life looking for, what we have been looking for is not this of AI “Hade Hizbi Hade Libi” project.
    no one have the right to dictate me where and what language to teach my children, I am a free man and no one’s slave, I am not a foreigner, I am his blood brother, it is my right to participate in planning policies that looks like my nation and decide the workable language in my own regional offices and where we call it home. my home should looks like mine….. not to make it by force looks like yours…. this is cheating. please brothers be sane… and do not take decisions on behalf of any one under the name of UNITY, and by trying to give false statistics, or even trying old ego tactics, by saying why ARABIC while you do have your own language… (this is Inferiority feelings), my answer here is “GO TO HELL SIR” with inferiority and Superiority, it is not your business …………… it is my choice. and if the government have the gut let it try A REFERENDUM… this the wise way that should take place,,, if not … examples are many around us the, positive as well as the negatives …. we have Sudan with its many conflicts, separations South & North Darfurs and Blue niles….etc… we have to learn from our neighbors and take lessons…. and you know better….. there is also Ethiopia, I know many have allergy with it, but it is still an example standing to learn from it.

  • selam kibri

    tigrina and tigre are language to majority of the population. english helps us communicate with the external world. these 3 should be national languages.

    • fetaw hageru

      to Selam Kibri

      you already decided for us the languages that we have to communicate with in eritrea and they are tigrina and tigre and you say the majority of eritrean population is tigrina & tigre
      pls let me Know when this statistics was done? who did this statistics ?

  • awatestaff

    you claim: “…Kunama, Afar,saho, Tigre are being used as a medium of instruction in elementary schools and they are showing progress…”

    You need to provide proof or reference to support your claim.

  • gerima

    Popular vote will solve the question of official language problem once and for all. Case closed.
    But poor me, I don’t have the right to vote.

    1. Tigrigna only
    2. Tigre only
    3. Arabic only
    4. Tigrigna and Tigre
    5. Tigrigna and Arabic
    6. Tigre and Arabic

  • Mohmoud S

    I can understand to some extend that, those who are propagating for tigrnya are scared of arabization of Eritrea. What can we do to save you from that??? May be we move Eritrea to central Africa to skip Arabs, then you will say izom tzlemti or may be we unite with great tigray of Axum, then you say izom agame.
    I am tigre speaker Eritrean, why would i chose tigrinya instead of Arabic, with it’s phenomenal attribute? The highest number of Eritrean refugees are not in the USA and Europe but in The Sudan and the Middle eastern. Most of them well educated, eager to serve their country, do they need ha hu to get Honor? Tigrinya is a fine ethnic language, i like to speak and shout with it but is not and never will be a unifying one like Arabic in Sudan or Amharic in Ethiopia. The biggest mistake was the enforcement of tigrinya politically. Very bad idea, today people reject it not because it is poor with out proper dictionary but enforced politically against their will. A language is chosen by it’s attribute and not by force, you can force a horse to the stream but you can’t force it to drink. I am teaching my son The Holy Quran and Arabic and i know many do that far from the propaganda of the Cult Leader for Arabic. Now! the Cult leader is propagating for Arabic, the language of 0,5% Rashaida, do they ask for it? or may be the case is not confining Arabic to Rashaida, who are today in Kerora, in Sahel and the next day in the Sudan. I am sure they failed to find a martyr Rashaida in the Eritrean Martyr lista.

  • Serray

    People, if shaebia made arabic and tigrigna official languages in 1991, nobody would have raised an eyebrow. After all shaebia created the first for profit government in 1994 and none of us seem to notice it. Hell, they created the first modern slavery system and called it national service and we barely took notice until the slaves started running away while there is a shoot to kill policy in place

    An eritrean who wants arabic because he is a muslim is as brain dead as the one who doesn’t because he is a christian. There is really one way to look at it, is Arabic good business? Would speaking arabic give eritreas a leg up? One day a free and a mature eritrea will deal with this issue in the only way that make sense.

    Let me answer the one who wants arabic because he is a moslem or because of some history. I don’t care what your contribution is to our struggle, i don’t care what your contribution is to Eritrea’s history, you have not and you will never earn the right to force me or my kids to speak your arabic. If that forces you to unlearn tigrigna, i will help you unistall it from you pie brain. As a christain, you add nothing to me and my religion when you speak or write in tigrigna.

    To the christian who who manufactures statistics and points to other nations: at least be honest, you will probably have the same feeling if every muslim nation has arabic as official language and arabic was native to 51% of eritreans. Tell us what really bothers you about a language that should have been africa’s official language. Let me bring a dramatic example to make point. The israelis are planning to build huge concentration camps for what they call infiltrators – similar to the ones the nazis built for the rats, as the nazis used to call them. The israelis say the infiltrators will change the jewish character of their nation and that justifies the nazi nature of their actions. You see, the israelis are not saying whether their actions are good or evil, maintaining their jewish character is beyond and above good and evil. Ask the anti-arabic crowd and you get the same feeling. They think arabic will somehow change the character of their manufactured eritrea.

    Every time we see a language beyond its utility, we get trapped between isais and ali salim version of reality. And none of them offer a way out because the former is completely insane and the latter is totally fiction.

    • A message to the bigots (like Mogos Tekeste) from “Serray” as quoted from the above reads as follows: “To the christian who who manufactures statistics and points to other nations: at least be honest, you will probably have the same feeling if every Muslim nation has Arabic as official language and Arabic was native to 51% of Eritreans. Tell us what really bothers you about a language that should have been Africa’s official language.” The Israeli’s metaphor nails the issue of language right away. Good job Serray.

  • John Arusha

    To Mr. Saleh Gadi my full respect. My drear compatrtiot. Why so much comments blah blah blah and emotions? The Arabic language for sure is religious and business language , Tigrigna is ethnic language. None of them should be Eritrean National or Official language.
    Mr. Mogos Tekeste you are imploring Tigrigna language as an Eritrean National and Official rejecting the Arabic language. Imposing Tigrigna as an Official language means Lingual-Colonialism for the other ethnic Eritrean component groups. As many African countries using the neutral language (English or France as official) is meaningful avoiding many different ethnic groups discontent. Why Tigrigna language should be official? What about the other 7 ethnic groups language? No Eritrean ethnic group accept Tigrigna as an Official language because it is again Lingual-Colonialism and Tigrigna domination . Official language should be neutral language and that is English. Otherwise it will be again ethnic conflict.

  • Micheal

    Let me tell you one story. I have a chirstian freind who has been living in Middle East since 1977. He is engineer, but he does not speak

    • Kokhob Selam

      Poor engineer his engine is not working. I hope the saying “tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are” will not work in your case. But do you believe me if I tell you this story? My Christian friend has completed his education in Khartoum University and most of his Muslim friends learn from him Arabic. your mind is what you feed it.

    • To Micheal i am realy sorry for you and your friend for you because you can’t even choose a freind poor thing for your friend i would like to know his Engineering degree is it in hatred ??? of of arabs & moslems poor thing then this is un Eritrean. the real Eritreans they donot hate any language or relegion. so you and your freind first must clean your dirty hearts and minds for us to accept you as Fetewti hager ERITRAWYAN

  • Mogos Tekeste

    Arabic is not a native language of the major ethnic groups in Eritrea. It is native language of only the  Rashaida who are less than 2 percent of the Eritrean population.
    Arabic is not an official language of these major Muslim nations in the world: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nigeria, Etc. Why should this case be different in Eritrea?
    if we want to create unity of the Eritrean people through the use of unifying languages the best option is make Tigrinya, Tigre and English the official languages of Eritrea. 
    Tigrinya and Tigre because they cover together almost more than 80 percent of the Eritrean people. English because it is the de facto language of the world. even the Arabs have accepted English as their daly language in their own nations. Just visits Abu Dhabi and Dubai to see for yourself.

    • berhan gedem

      u don’t know the history of eritrean people go get it study history before u gave coment.

    • Mogos Tekeste is one of the arrogant who doesn’t know his society. Not even a single one from our diversity except the Tigrigna speaking people. Keep in mind that he is an illiterate regarding his society when you argue with him. Don’t take him serious. He is regurgitating the same words. I think some one form awate writers debated with him on the issue of language. By the way isn’t he who asked clemency for the totalitarian regime few years ago. Mogos has to know that there are many watch dogs for those who has double faces.


      Dear Mogos same times you confuse Eritrea with Tigray , I understand you want to see another tigray in Eritrea, but the fact remains that Eritrea is different from Tigray, you speak a language its origin is from tigray and the word tigrinia is driven from that .,tigrina is very poor language even the wayne the owners of this language they use Amharic more, half of the language is Arabic, since leaving our country I had no use of tigrinia ,I understand you want to preserve your cultural, religious and bloodline with tigray , that should be respected , but you have to be honest about it, and the lowlanders have all the right to have especial relations with their brothers in Sudan , and the Afar to have good relations with their brothers in Djibouti and Ethiopian Afar. You have mentioned same Muslim countries which does not use Arabic, that is true and their leaders don’t speak Arabic, how about the President ISAYIAS why he speaks perfect Arabic and Yemane Ghebreab too and most senior leaders in the government and the opposition. Since independence Isayias traveled to Arab countries than any were else , as far as Dubai is concerned it was a colony of the British un till recently it is simple natural to be influenced in small country and population like UAE. The only advice I can give you is listen to your President and with in one year or two you should improve your Arabic for change is gonna come either way,

      • Dear Alhagiga,
        Mogos is a messenger of the regime. He is provoking the Muslims to create the christian/Muslim division to extend the life span of the regime. Let him vomit his demons in order the public to know who he is, and only after that we can try to cleanse him and make him rationale person. Second if possible we will take him to acquaint with the diversity of our society if time permitted. He is sick with hate don’t count on him.

        • ALHAGIGA

          Dear Azaria
          Thank you for your wise words , individuals like you keep our society united and at peace with each other, the Eritrean culture is strong enough to with stand such foreign ideas that comes from individuals like Mogos and his likes, we are divers society and we should accept that , respect for each others rights and choices should be respected,I don’t personally want to see another Somalia , Rwanda or Lebanon we should learn from the mistakes of others.

        • fetaw hageru

          DEAR AZARIA.
          you are not only FETAW HAGERU YOU ARE FETAW HEZBU !
          GREAT MIND!!!!

  • well done awate, well done Salih Gadi. A respectful government, regime or a party should have a clear policy that serve the nation in whole and reflects the beat of ITS PEOPLES. but in today Eritrea, AI made the country as his own backyard garden where he puts his favorites this day up and tomorrow down, morning to the right but in the afternoon shifted to other side or totally vanished it according his whims or sick mind. he is playing a game with the future of Eritrean children and education system , but also with the unity in Eritrea. Noe after 20 years he appears with new deceive game in order to extend his time in power. after he jailed and murdered many teachers and closed down many Arabic schools based on hate and pretext allegations.
    The new education system he declared is just a card in an old game.
    Arabic Language had been, is and shall be there to stay in Eritrea, for majority Eritrean Muslims this is a non negotiable choice and it is tantamount to freedom & liberation, it has nothing to do with the damen Arabs or the Arab league or any other political or regional body. but unfortunately AI deals with this critical fact as just a card in a wicked game……….. and by doing so he is still destroying the nation.

  • Hjim

    I speak Tigrayit (Tigre), never has Arabic been more dominant than Tigrayit in Eritrea. Arabic is an important language to master but it has no place in becoming a national language, especially over Tigrayait. The majority of the world’s Mulsim populations haven’t adopted Arabic as a national language. For example, Turkey hasn’t, Pakistan hasn’t, Malaysia hasn’t, Indonesia hasn’t, Somalia hasn’t, etc. You can be Muslim and still speak your mother language, only someone who suffering from inferiority complex can promote another language over his mother tongue.

    • wed-keren

      I totally agree with hjim.
      here are 2 questions for Mr Gadi and the others who think Arabic to be an official language in Eritrea.
      1-when we Eritreans go to visit to our Muslim parents and relatives,do we speak in Arabic to them or in ur mother toung?
      2-how many % of Eritreans can read and
      write fluently in Arabic.
      Btw Im fluent in Arabic,both reading and writing.

      • Saleh Gadi

        Answer 1: The issue of Arabic is not based on the language you use when you visit people, it is unrelated.
        Thank you for the question, but all your questions have been answered in great detail. It would be advisable to do some research instead of insisting on getting a one-to-one question and answer session which by the way has been going on for fifty years, the same people asking the same questions and getting the same answers by the same people. I have decided not to entertain a one-to-one discussion on this issue any more. I have been going on doing it for fifteen years on the Internet. Google, Saleh Gadi, Arabic, etc or better, go to my Negarit column and do some research. You will get enough answers to your heart’s delight and good luck. But as an encouragement and courtesy, I will answer your two question.

        Answer 2: I do not have the statistics, I hope I knew that; I hope I knew how many Eritreans can read and write in any language, including Tigrinya. But the literacy rate of Eritrea might give you an idea, not good figures at all.

        Finally, try to find an answer for this question, I been looking around but could not find an answer: why are some people perpetuating this insult to injury, bringing the topic as if it yesterday’s invention?

  • Semay Zihagerikum

    Note to narrow-mindedness: I hate Issaias and his clique for what they did to my people, Eritreans in general, to the core of my core.

  • Semay Zihagerikum

    Arabic and Tigrinya!!! Tigrinya, the language of Highlanders or Christians? Arabic, the language of Muslims? Since when? There are millions of Arab-Christians in the world whose mother tongue is Arabic. Every Musilim who says Arabic is the language of my religion, there is no such thing as the language of religion, many people in the world are Muslims who do not use Arabic as their language because it is the language of their ‘religion’.

    What is the point of all the nonsense by the wannabe journalists and politicians? Salih Gadi Johar, you have a good brain, think well, do something with your time. Everyone is trying to come to power under the disguise of having something taken away from him by someone else who is different from him somehow? I know a few Muslim friends who dream of having an imposed Shari’a law in Asmara and the highland and all over Eritrea. Don’t you honestly think deep inside your sould your wish is what is Issias is doing now, dominating under the guise of any issue, and yours is Islam and Muslims stamped on in Eritrea? The fear of a tyrannical leader from among them, after bloody decades, made the highlanders passive, because peace was heavily paid for, or at least so they thought, though peace was in no way around the corner. Now, another tyranny under the name of new issues as phony as Arabic and Tigrinya! It’s all about dominance, cowards!

    Talk like Ali Salim, openly! Talk about terrorism and true Islam. Tell us what your agenda is!

    Read your history.

    • Selam :- Semay Zihagerikum, no need acting like a drunk-ed hamema asela,please remain sober and think before you write.

      ” Arabic and Tigrinya!!! Tigrinya, the language of Highlanders or Christians? Arabic, the language of Muslims? Since when? There are millions of Arab-Christians in the world whose mother tongue is Arabic. Every Musilim who says Arabic is the language of my religion, there is no such thing as the language of religion, many people in the world are Muslims who do not use Arabic as their language because it is the language of their ‘religion’.”


      • Semay Zihagerikum

        Exciter: You have no idea what you asking for… you an your likes. You think you can ‘excite’ chaos because you simply disrespect here and there. Sober up yourself, buddy.

        Read what I wrote and try to understand it, there is no such language of religion. Teach Islam in any language and it could be religion as long as it is a religion of peace, and teach Christianity in Arabic as long as it teaches of peace and harmony.
        Your thinking sounds a little bit out of line thou. May be you are just a fanatic of some belief of your own thinking. Allah Yibarik Fi!

        • Kokhob Selam

          Easy Semay,
          Now it is not the words that matter it is the intention. If your intention is to show that any language can be used for any religion, it is ok and you are both on the same line. There are some people who thought all Arabs are Muslims, if a Christian will say BISMLAHI ARHMAN ARAHIM I think there are people who will wonder among us. And also the same from Muslims. And here there is one very important point I should let you notice. Islam (Qur’an) gives the real meaning when it is used in Arabic language. You can’t find a language that can handle Qur’an except the main points and pillars. Arab Muslims are still getting new knowledge on this book.
          But let me clear for you one thing here also, if most of the ethnic groups have a religion that teaches in Arabic, and then they are lucky just for having one common language. Doesn’t that make sense to let all of them know one language that let them communicate? Yes ended. But this way of thinking will come out of peaceful mind and that is what we are trying and struggling to build. Otherwise we will be in mess like if Saho will say “why even use Tigrigna as national language when I have my language” what will you say?
          I am sure someone may say because Tigrigna speaking population is wider. But no one can show so. You will find from all sides extreme thinking and we have to know no one will win. Let me give you example of “Tigrinya Christian” argument. Start to count where Christians reside. Most are in HAMASEN, SERAYE, and AKOLGZAY.
          Even then half this area is populated by Muslims. Take Seraye and Hamasen see village by village and I am afraid to say Jeberti alone are equal to those Christians. And Jeberti way of life is different (let’s not cheat each other to say we are all the way the same) even some words spoken are different. You see now? That is why we have to be flexible and we should plan for peaceful coexistence.
          Denkelia people and Barka people can speak more or less Arabic and it is easier to let them use it. Now “the mother tang first” argument is ok when it comes from free and peaceful mind. But if this comes from PFDJ the story is different. Some Christians thought their population will count more if they do so by demoralizing to those who want Arabic to be national language. Practically we have seen it how PFDJ let all educated people go out of the country. No man who gets education in Arabic country was able to work in Eritrea except the cheap once. I mean by cheap, those who serve PFDJ. I mean it; no dignified man will stay under such stupid group.
          Again comes, our history that should be noticed by you and me. Most of us believe that we are from Arabs and that is ok as far as we have one nation call Eritrea and it is up to the people how to manage it during transitional period in using the Arabic language.
          PFDJ, don’t care about all this. They are against everybody who loves peace. They have the language of devil. It is not what type of language you talk that matters more it is for what you use it. The instruction “kill Peace full men” can be translated in Arabic. To make it easier Gaddafi is Arab,Bashar is Arab, Mengstu is Amhara, our lovely president who is killing us is an Eritrean ( ?), Najat’ Persian. Mother Teresa is from German and Hitler?
          I think the way Saleh Gaddi has analyzed it in different times clearly but that doesn’t mean some different ideas should not be said. After all we are here for democratic Eritrea.
          You are free to argue and say what you want in cultured way. Don’t ever label any one or blame any single person ….only IDEAS please. Thank you very much for reading.

          • guest

            First of all this issue should be studied well and presented to Eritrean people.Why Arabic as an official language,the benefit, the feasibility, the cost, the implication.
            Why Arabic language considered as official language during referendum, it should be put in mind there is an intention by tge British to divide Eritrea between Ethiopia and Sudan base on religion and locality. Sudan speaks Arabic while Tigrigna predominantly spoken in Highlands and Northern Ethiopia.The British done this on Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ogaden-Ethiopua-and those region are in endless turmoil.
            Why DIA raise this issue-first hw used as a means to irritate the West, to get Arab support like Quarter, to divide people so hw can consolidate power,and to weaken some opposition groups which have religion agenda and based in Ethiopia.the other question why students master the language in one year(??).It should be reminded that many villages they have their own local court and administration , these people use their own mother tongue, elders law ir Sheria, unless the matter goes to higher level. Kunama, Afar,saho, Tigre are being used as a medium of instruction in elementary schools and they are showing progress, so why we force others to learn a foreign language(except Rashida).From my understanding it is Issias hidden agenda to politicize the use of Arabic, in the long run it us like creating the situation in Sudan, Pakistan and India

          • Semay Zihagerikum

            kokhob selam: you are repeating the same point everyone is repeating. Language is no different than how people get related to certain culture and way of thinking.
            What I am trying to say is that Arabic as a national language would not hurt, but making it one of the biggest issues of identity in Eritrea doesn’t make sense. The agenda behind it is clear to anyone who raises it. We hear all the arguments among the Muslim opponents, especially the Islamic parties or fronts. It’s only to garner support of the unknowing soul (the ordinary citizen), to make him feel that the Tigrinya ‘dominance’ could only be thwarted by having Islamic values introduced via Arabic . Time again, it’s a political agenda, using religion as an instrument as it is done all over the world.

            Apart from it, Indonesians, 88% Muslims, never wanted to change the national language Bahasa into Arabic, the Hausa people in Nigeria, who are killing Christians in the name of religion, are maintaining their own language. We can go on. Then, one wonders, why is that some people in the political spectrum always wanted to use this issue as an issue needed to be resolved? Is it because, like Kokhob-Selam said, many Eritreans believe they are Arabs? How? Because they have a little lighter skin than other Africans or because Ge’ez and other languages that descended from it has certain Arabic sounding words? I will leave this to the experts of Eritrean genealogy.

            The majority of the ELF leaders had Middle-eastern or Sudanese training and education. That was why they were speaking Arabic and introduced Arabic as a language in the field. But do not tell me that every other Muslim in Eritrea speaks Arabic. And DO NOT TELL ME THAT ARABIC IS THE ONLY LANGUAGE GOD(ALLAH) MEANT FOR ISLAM TO BE SPREAD OUT IN THE WORLD because Islam could only be BETTER interpreted/understood in ARABIC. If you tell me yes, please open your eyes, and see how many lives are wasted and being wasted as a result of ISLAM, let’s forget about the terrorists who hide behind Jihad, but Sunnis agains Shi’as and other sects in the entire world. Look at the tension in the Middle East. Isn’t it because of interpretation as you claim? If so, is Arabic responsible for that? Isn’t that paradoxical?

            I am an ordinary person, a citizen, who dislikes to see chaos and new waves of distrust develop between nations of my country as a result of an issue which can be solved by a democratically elected National Parliament, not by Issaias’s or Osman’s directives. It should not be an issue that should be raised – ahead of any progress in the unification of national spirit for a common purpose is achieved. Because, if language is wanted to be an issue in Eritrea and then religion is following, ’cause Muslims are raising religion via language, and then religion will be an issue in Eritrea, and then things will follow, who is righteous and who is not.

            We have been hearing all the arguments raised in favor and against.

            See you next time

        • Selam :- Semay Zihagerikum, thank you for your reply. You said I have no idea what I was asking for but hey, the issue here is about the missed opportunity of using a dual language: Tigrigna and Arabic and brother Saleh Gadi described it well how Isayas Afewerki crashed this opportunity. This has nothing to do with religion because religion is religion, politics are politics and languages are languages. So, the only main thesis was about the dual language. Of course, you have Chinese Muslims, you have Indian Muslims, you have Afghan Muslims, etc, but the original Holy Quran has been written in Arabic. The ones who respect the Holy Quran know that it is a peaceful script and I know that our Eritrean brothers and sisters Muslims interpreted the Quran in a right way. It doesn’t interest me how the Somalian, the Iraqis or the Nigerians are behaving. So, if an Eritrean brother Muslim come with an idea, one doesn’t have to think about Jihad or Sharia. If there is an example of a peaceful way of living together in tolerance, solidarity and respect, so our Eritrean Muslims are examples even for other countries. This is why I didn’t understand your panic attack.
          “Your thinking sounds a little bit out of line thou. May be you are just a fanatic of some belief of your own thinking. Allah Yibarik Fi!”
          First of all, I’m not a fanatic and nor I support the way of fanaticism. I am simply a normal Eritrean Christian like many of my Eritrean Christian compatriots who learned about respect, tolerance and solidarity. My motto was always a collective responsibility and not a selective and destructive power like that of the PFDJ.


  • my eritreans bro and sister we the afar eritrians in a big problime almoste over 120 000 refuge in ethiopia u the highlander stop suporting issayas if u keep u will loos asab mesewa etc learne d from north sudan amhara ethiopia – let maket happen by stand togather beuld beutifule eritria

    • Semay Zihagerkum

      yayo afari: I am with you, brother. I support for the right of every Eritrean ethnicity in Eritrea, no matter the percentage is. Let’s make a reality of an equal opportunity of representation in all sectors of government. Please do not use about losing Assab, Asmara, Keren or Massawa, it doesn’t make sense. If you believe you are an Eritrean, fight like an Eritrean and assert your rights.
      Peace be upon you!

  • Saleh Gadi

    Selam all,
    I wish some commentators research the subject and then comment or debate it. A few comments seem to be questioning the Arabic language as it relates to Eritrea instead of discussing the topic of the article which is Isaias’ policy shift. Unfortunately I cannot explain such a vast subject on a one-to-one basis. Therefore I would like to invite you to read this: . You might get different views from what you hold—it might also help you see other perspectives.
    If not, I can gladly offer more links.
    Thank you

    This is the only explanation I can offer

    • Semay Zihagerkum

      Saleh Gadi,
      I am one of your admirers in certain of your writings. The way you put certain things sound really practical while some the others sound simply ideal.

      I have read the link you have posted above as I did before. What I don’t understand is sometimes you seem to advocate for the unity of Eritreans and sometimes you sound like you just write things like someone writes his thoughts in a journal, if you know what I mean. Stirring up people’s emotions doesn’t serve Eritrea’s interest right now. Let’s work for a common solution.
      May wisdom shine on you and keep on writing something informative that serves to the betterment of the Eritrean situation

  • Fessahaye

    Whether Isayas wants it or not, Eritrean Muslims, who are the majority in Eritrea, want Arabic and that is how it should be. It is their inalienable right. For those whose religion is not Islam (Mainly Christians), you may need to understand the value of Arabic both economically and culturally in our region.
    To Tigrayt, Tigrinia and Ge’ez speakers, you may need to learn the history and etymology of your languages; and to do that, Arabic is not only the key, but the means to expand your own languages. The relationship of Ge’ez, Tigrayt to Arabic for example is amazing. Ge’ez took many words from Arabic and so did Arabic from Ge’ez. It is a fascinating relationship. For Christians, Arabic is your history too. Lean it and you will be wise, and enriched.

    • Semay Zihagerkum

      @Fessahaye: are you trying to advance an new Eritrean platform based on religion?
      What a non-sense! It doesn’t serve anyone any good. Ethnicity, language, religion are and could create a country’s platfrom of politics. The choice is ours whether we need to have a country based on a common purpose instead of something based on individual group’s interest. That being said, people’s rights could be protected under a constitution. But just because we had a common history or regional relationship with Arabs doesn’t necessarily make your point of having Arabic as an official language or nor because certian Eritrean Musilms here and there could relate to certain ancestral heritage with Arabs.

  • PIA is unpredictable and hard to believe. In this Arabic issue I am sure he has some toxic plan. Therefore those who are for the idea or against it do not waste your time. Keep struggling to get rid of him and his followers who are already toxicated with his limited logic and cultural resentment of others. No matter how hard him and his follows try they can not change the truth, for truth is indivisible it remains so. PIA will do this manuvers not to join the Arab leage but is doing it to scare the anti Islam block in the west and will prove that

  • Amanuel

    I beleive languages are one of the best skills to have. No individual should have to be instructed what to study or not to study. The intentions of this article is equally distructive as that of PFDJ. We can not deny that Eritreans are half Moslems but Arabic has never been the major language of any significant number of Ethnic groups except Rashida who usually have dual nationality correct me if I am wrong but even the dialect of those who speak Arabic is different depending where they learned it. I guess Mr. Johar you have not realized what the attempt of Arabization has caused in Sudan. Such articles are one of the main reasons why a big portion of the scaptical Eritreans are discouraged by such a sinister remarks to play their role in the process of getting red of the dictator.

  • Azazi Mehari

    This could be one of reasons that people are reluctant to embrace Arabic. Treat arabic like any other language in the world, a mode of communication and everyone will be happy to get into it. When given some sort of Godly power, and only for the followers of one religion, people tend to distance themselves from that, and get very suspicious of everyone that sponsors the use of that language as official language in a Country

  • guest

    First of all i would like to thank the writer for explaining the confusion in part of Issays, but coming to Arabic language; though some of the sayings are true i totally disagree, we will have 80% fluent Arabic speakers had the Arabic teaching continued, it should be remind that English had been the medium of language since high school and still given from Grade levels but we can not be fluent in English, and take also Amharic though many people who went to school understand Amharic , still many have difficulty communicating except for Amharic songs.

    It should be reminded that even though you travel to gash barka, or in places where tigre is dominated they are not fluence in Arabic, the basic advancement of language is the practical use of the language in our daily activities, but it is ignorant to think that all the highlanders will be fluent in speaking and communicating arabics had the course be continued, it should be put in mind that you can not teach language by enforcing the population to adopt a language. It would be benefiical to know two languages but it does not make sense when you force people to study in Tigrigna, then Arabic, then following by English. But i recommend Every Eritrean at least to master his mother language and an additional language depending on its locality say an Afar should master his language and if he add Arabic, Tigrigan, English or Amharic that is a plus as it help him to communicate with yemen, ethiopia or the highland Eritriea but enforcing to know more than three languages it is a burden on the student. For me I would like most highlanders to master tigrigan and also be proficient in English ,but for lowlanders or minority like Kunama, to master English or Arabic depending on their interest and benefit rather than imposing two languages which is not native to the tribe or ethinic group. We should not forget that Arabic was being taught in highlands until 2000 but it does bear any fruit except those who use for religion purpose. The languages should be not compulsory but elective so that they will chose what will benefit them.

    • JIMIE

      Learning languages is beneficial to an individual as you have mentioned, however your comments is shying away from main point. What would be the language(s) that all Eritreans need to communicate in official (government office) environment. When people talk about the Arabic language they talking about its official status regardless weither speak it at home or not.

      • guest

        It is satirical to use Arabic as an official language even in those whose native language is not tigrigna. Think about all the courts, hospitals, schools,ministries and offices , most of the government employees are tigrigna or at least they speak tigrigna for medium of communication with their colleagues and clients for that purpose.Even most of the people who claimed know Arabic , they are poor when it comes to write and read let alone mastering for the purpose of official use.At least most officers know to read, write English and as most documents come from either from English or Geeze(Amharic) but assuming that Arabic will be official language is destructive, pricey and impractical.Instead of Arabizing the whole population as DIA dreams it would have been better to produce few who will master for the purpose of diplomacy, business, literature and international relation rather spend money in futile effort for the purpose of hidden Issias agenda.

        • fetaw hageru

          To guest
          you are dreaming if you think things are OK in eritrea !!!
          if the public servants in Eritrea are communicating in Tigrina with the public it is not becouse the public wanted to but it’s becouse ‘hade lebi’ wanted it and imposed it on them and the majority are marginalized for the time.But the bad news is that the regime in ERITREA finally realized that but you haven’t!!!!

  • Serray

    This was only 2 years after the dergi. I am sure the question was not framed the way the dummy put it. It can’t be. He was putting a divisive twist to it and they fell for it; not the zombies, the others, the ones who asked the question. The zombies have no clue, they still don’t.

    At that time the issue was between him and those who were asking for Arabic. He didn’t like it so he made it between them and the tigrigna speakers (highlanders). For him it was the easiest and the most logical thing to do, “it is not us, it is the people, be angry at them”.

    Twenty years ago shaebia was 100% in charge and it is 100% in charge today. The illusion of popular power is dead and gone. And yet, 20 years later, last october, Meles invited a bunch of Eritreans to ethiopia and they spent 2 full days of a 4 day meeting discussing the ethnic nature of shaebia regime.

    The zombies haven’t change, the NY meeting is proof of that. The dummy hasn’t change, it can’t. Only one group seem to embrace the premise isais put on that meeting. You can say the meeting worked….on the wrong people, on those who should know better. Smart opposition try to isolate and weaken a regime they try to overthrow, ours try to empower it by identifying half of the population with it.

  • Selam :- Big brother Saleh Gadi Johar, thank you very much for your informative article.

    “The following is what I have been saying in many words, in all my speeches and writing: “If the PFDJ had adopted a dual education language policy in 1993, today we will have all Eritreans, regardless of their region and religion, speaking fluent Arabic and Tigrinya.” Well, that was not meant to be. Unfortunately after long years of struggle and many sacrifices, Eritrea ended up with a sick man at the helm of power instead of a visionary leader.”

    Absolutely true. If the PFDJ would have started a dual education language policy in 1993, today our population would be much more advanced in communicating with both languages. But instead of that, the dictator Wedi Afom was only focused in dividing our Eritrean people. One doesn’t have to be a philosopher to know the rag tag behaviour of the dictator. A leader who works for reconciliation, tolerance and peace doesn’t try to ridicule our Eritrean population by speaking of bars, whore-ism and jails. This has been always his tactics starting from the 70’s when he was talking about our brothers and sisters Muslims as if they were terrorists. Through this way he caused hate and mistrust between our Christians and Muslims in Eritrea. Isn’t it ridiculous? Wasn’t it Isayas who closed our Arabic schools and arrested many of our Muslim teachers? Wasn’t it Isayas who closed our university in Asmara? So how on earth can this retarded dictator say that he “learned Arabic to be able to communicate with [his] brothers in the field” ? The question is: Haven’t our Christian Eritrean population also the right to learn the Arabic language and communicate with their Muslim brothers and sisters? If someone is civilized and cares about the social aspects, then yes, but Isayas avoided this to happen so he closed the opportunity of dual language. This man is a certified liar. One should not expect this man to change because he can’t, it is his habit and he learned it in the Addis Abeba university ruled by the former Ethiopian king Haile Selase. For those guys like Isayas, the dead soldiers who struggled for liberation and freedom aren’t any important because they think that the kings and the rulers make history although the soldiers win wars. Because of this way of thinking Isayas started the war against Ethiopia in 1998 and with such behaviour he provoked our neighbours Yemen, Sudan and Djibouti. If one day a person will be six feet under, the only things he can take with him are his good or bad habits. This is why no one should expect that Isayas will change his behaviour. The same counts for his PFDJ supporters, they will never change, too.


  • Mussie

    What is happening to this website? It used to be one of the few logical Eritrean websites. Especially some fine writers like A.A.Yuonis’s articles were exceptional. Now, it’s decadent and obsessed with one misplaced strategy: imposition of “ideals” on people. Especially, Mr. Johar is no less sickly obsessed than the decadent and rootless Isaias. Mr. Johar is trying to teach us that “Arabic” is the roots of Eritreans. It has never been, and it will never be. If you are trying to call the “agreement” on adopting Arabic as one of two official languages in Eritrea during the federation as “roots”, then, think again. This is not a cheap competition between Coca-Cola, and Pepsi-Cola.

  • sara

    Michael, i was also at the meeting you mentioned in jeddah… you are right he said… as follows when some one asked reply in tigrina,.. and his excellency the president said… where do you think we are in DEMBELAS…( not quhain.). and i know the lady who asked for translation and the reason…. he was talking in classical Arabic called fusha… which is difficult for the average Arabic speaker. by the way, though i started Arabic language i mean the alphabets in Asmara, but was never able to read or write, later when i came to Saudi i started evening classes at the EPLF offices in RIYADH in the 80th now i can read and write… HOW ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! there are so many eritreans who learned Arabic at eplf centers in the 80th.. Riyadh..jeddah, kharotoum..etc
    i also met Mr jawhar in jeddah when he was working at the PEPSI COLA factory… and i am happy he is fluent in English and Arabic… may be the kuwait ..stay did help a lot but when i knew him his language proficiency was just an average… i wish i went to Kuwait… there must be more opportunity there than those who stayed in Saudi Arabia…

  • this wicked soul (isaias) has said all the thing he wanted to say. and murdered all the people he wanted to murder. Fortunetly for us, all his deeds are kept in record. One day ,hopefully in the future, him and his blineded follower will be accountable. (hade hzb hade sambu’u tetahizk nab gudgad).
    Keep the good job brother Salih, you and the people like on the other websites ,God willing, will bring this mushmush wicked soul and his racist,wogonawian decible to their knee.
    When you analize the isaias saga. It remaines you ,yunis ibrahim song (qdim tebahilu msale abotat t’ebit tiqidima n hsret n wdqet). How true is that.

    • fetaw hageru

      To Abuaare
      good on you that you brought up the name ‘ABU AARE’ It remind’s me some one who is behind bars in Eritrea since 1998 just for trying to bring arabic language to where it deserves to be and I will remind you some one else who paid his life for just mentioning that Arabic should be written down in the future constitution of eritrea that is the lion Dr.Taha Mohammednur.
      this two heroes will always remembered whenever the topic of official language in Eritrea comes in to surface with many others who fought for justice.

  • Micheal

    Isais has been deceiving our people since he had joined ELF. He can’t deceive our people anymore. I remember, while I was in Saudi Arabia during his first and last visit, he had held a meeting and delivered a speech in Arabic. And when asked to translate into Tigrina, he replied saying “where are you? Are you in Kohayin? Look at his hpocratic character.

    • Wedi Adem

      That is funny, But I beleive you though he may say it, he is unpredictable person.

    • Nahum

      What do you expect him to do more than what he did so far? I think he has ruled more than his share.

  • Kokhob Selam

    I think PIA is comic. Where are the people to use Arabic language inside this country? Doesn’t he know that freedom has lost its meaning due to his ugly administration?
    This group (PFDJ) has become crazy more than before now after congress. He don’t know what he is doing..600 young people are in Nakfa in meeting. , he is telling and others to start writing about constitution.
    I am sure he will start talking about the once in prison after some days. He will do a lot of things to convince some innocent guys and gain some time. He will call the world again and again to explain only his problem is Badme etc.
    That is how he and his friends are manufactured. There is more jock.
    PFDJ only have one choice … forget the old tricks and step down before the mass come to hung them. Smerrrrrrrrrr.Weylekha Zeysemerka

  • Negash

    Do not believe Astrologers even if what they say is true.


    I thought when papa Isaias left for Israel ,it was because ,the mosquito that caused his cerebral malaria was sponsored by the Arab League. May be he found out that it was the Mossad , the sponsor of the “reactionary” mosquito. Just as I was finishing learnning the SINGAPOURIAN language , now I have to study Arabic. I e mailed Ali Abdu to hide the BLACK LABEL WHISKY, but he does not listen.

    • Wedi Adem

      It seems to me all the teachings and examples of SEWRA time has been knock down and turned off by Issayas. I know more Eritreans from highlanders learn Arabic under ELF than EPLF before and after independence including me. Learning Arabic gave me opportunity to communicate with my brothers from lowland and others who do not speak tigrigna. At this time IA move to pressure the education department to teach Arabic on faster method do not look practical and I can not buy it. Our education system need experts and let them handle it if he have some left in Eritrea.
      With his confused mind all of us had been effected and get confused, spare us for God sake.