Jawar Mohammed, born in 1986, is an Ethiopian-born prominent activist and politician. Jawar is the head of the Qerro movement. Because, he played a significant role in steering and catalyzing the 2014–2016 Oromo protests, he is credited for the demise of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government, which was the ruling coalition that had been in charge since 1991.
Moreover, Jawar was a prominent voice in the anti-government protests that led to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed coming to power in 2018. Furthermore, the controversial activist, Jawar, is a political analysis expert and a leading opposition figure in present-day Ethiopian politics.
Childhood And Early Life
Jawar Mohammed was born on May 12, 1986, to Ethiopian parents of different religious backgrounds. He hailed his origin from Dhumuga, a small town located on the border of Hararghe and Arsi provinces, Oromia region of Ethiopia. His father was Arsi Oromo, of the Muslim faith. On the other hand, his mother was Tulama Oromo, an Orthodox Christian. This inter-religious marriage was rare in the area, where over 90% of the population are followers of the Islamic religion. In some of his interviews, Jawar said that this had played a vital role in shaping his attitude towards religious tolerance.
As an ordinary child in the province, Jawar spent much time with the village elders to acquire knowledge and wisdom. Jawar had the opportunity to learn history, law, and politics from his grandparents and their acquaintances. Especially growing up under his wise grandfather, his attitude is forged in a way his community has taught him. For that reason, either positively or negatively, Jawar’s political and historical awareness is highly influenced by societal beliefs. His community had filled his mind with the appreciation of Oromo indigenous history, culture, law, and social organization.
Moreover, growing up in an Oromo nationalist family, he has learned a lot from his father’s sacrifice in the Oromo nationalist resistance movement. His father’s generation’s history of struggle, which he learned primarily from the legendary Oromo nationalist guerilla fighter and leader, Abdulkarim Ibrahim Hamid, known as Jarra Abba Gadaa. He gave him a good insight into the depth of brutality of the imperial regime and the importance of solidarity with similarly oppressed people.
Educational Background of Jawar Mohammed
Jawar is a well-educated person learning in different institutions of greater quality. When he reached compulsory school age, Jawar enrolled in an elementary school in his hometown. However, he stopped his education before completing his studies. Afterward, Jawar joined a Catholic school in the city of Assela. After a year, he switched to Cilaalo secondary school.
Later on, Jawar moved to Adama to take the High School National Exam. Soon after, Jawar got a scholarship to study at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. This was the place where Jawar began to incline to his Oromo Identity. As a result, he began studying Afaan Oromoo among his other college coursework. After completing his studies in 2005, Jawar moved to California, United States of America, to enroll at Stanford University. In 2009, Jawar graduated from this university with a degree in political science. Afterward, Jawar went to Washington D.C and did an internship there.
Subsequently, Jawar went to New York to progress in his education at Columbia University. There, he earned his master’s degree in 2013.
Jawar Mohammed Family
Following his parents, Jawar formed an inter-religious marriage in 2009 by marrying Arfaase Gemeda, a Protestant in her religion. Moreover, they have a child.
Progress in The Politics
Jawar started his political struggle by preparing engaging content revolving around the Oromo people. He began by discussing the failure of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Later on, he founded The International Oromo Youth Association to create an organized and united Oromo youth group.
After working untiringly, Jawar succeeded to open a television media named OMN (Oromia Media Network) on March 1, 2014, in Minneapolis. The Oromo Diaspora fully funded the media. Regarding his media, Jawar had been charged before, while living in exile in the US, for his work with the OMN. Jawar Mohammed has also served OMN (Oromia Media Network) as Executive director.
Before the political reform in Ethiopia, Jawar used OMN and his social media to promote the political struggle held on. After Dr. Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018, Jawar came to Ethiopia to democratize the country. Although Jawar first insisted that he had no intention to enter formal politics, he later announced that he would participate in the election. On this account, Jawar joined the popular opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and stepped down as the chief executive of the OMN’s television station. Currently, Jawar is the vice-chairman and executive member of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) party.
Without any doubt, Jawar is considered a hero by many Ethiopians. They regard him as a great politician who has given his young life to the cause of improving the lives of millions. They give him credit for his devotion and contribution to liberating the Oromo people from suppression.
Although many Ethiopians consider Jawar, a hero, there are also some who strongly blame him. In as much as many take him as their hero, many view him as a devil incarnate who wishes to destroy Ethiopia. He is blamed for fueling inter-ethnic tensions and mob violence.
Many Ethiopians link Jawar Mohammed to the violence that erupted in Addis Ababa and the Oromia region after the assassination of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa in Addis Ababa in June 2020. They accuse Jawar and his media OMN (Oromia Media Network) for catalyzing the unrest and violence during this sad event.
In October 2019, when the Ethiopian government took back his government-provided bodyguards in the middle of the night, he sent out a distress call to Qerro. And this incident flare-up armed Qerros to attack innocents, killing 67 and wounding 213 more. As a result, Jawar impeached for using the Qerro movement as his power base to attack other ethnicities. This claim becomes bolder when his followers publicly hanged a man they suspected of carrying a bomb.
Furthermore, many Ethiopian accused Jawar of his incitement of religious hostility reflected during his speech which he gave to a gathering of Oromo Muslims. He said, “My village is 99% Muslim in his speech. If someone speaks against us, we cut his throat with a machete.” This antagonistic speech has saddened many Ethiopians and has caused them to see Jawar with suspicion. Adding to this, he said, when Oromo is strong, Islam will be strong. When Islam is strong, Oromo will be strong. Some take this speech of Jawar as a sign of his intention to create a politically engaged Islamic force in Ethiopia. Even more, some inferred that Jawar had ties with global jihadists. However, when journalists raised this antagonistic video speech to him, Jawar denied it, claiming the video “clip was doctored.
Before his release from prison on January 7, 2022, Jawar was facing trial on charges of terrorism, incitement to violence, a firearms offense, and telecoms fraud.
Imprisonment and Release of Jawar Mohammed
In July 2020, Jawar Mohammed was arrested while taking part in widespread protests against the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, during which many people lost their lives. The trouble began when Jawar and his supporters intercepted Hachalu’s body as it was being transported to his hometown of Ambo for burial, going against the wishes of his parents, who wanted to avoid politicizing their son’s funeral. Consequently, tension escalated and caused death and injury. A fight between Jawar’s security detail and the police resulted in one officer being killed in addition to the protesters. The government then deployed its special security forces in an attempt to stop the rebels from capturing Hachalu’s coffin and returning it to his hometown. Consequently, the police arrested Jawar, his security detail, fellow protesters, and reporters from his local media. Following this, the government indicted Jawar for serious crimes and put him on trial.
Nevertheless, Jawar and some Oromo politicians never admitted to the acts that were charged against him. They considered his trial to be a political sham and continued to protest against it. Moreover, diplomats from the United States and Europe have urged the Ethiopian government to release Jawar and other political prisoners, but Addis Ababa has been deaf to these pleas.
However, during Ethiopian Christmas (January, 2022), the Ethiopian government finally released many of the imprisoned politicians, including Jawar Mohammed, with the aim of pacifying the protesters and improving its international reputation.
Social Media Presence
Quick Facts About Jawar Mohammed
- Full Name: Jawar Siraj Mohammed
- Gender: male
- Nationality: Not Available
- Religion: Islam
- Sexuality: Straight
- Occupation: Activist, Politician
- Political party: Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)
- Position: vice-chairman
- Born: May 12, 1986
- Birthday: May 12
- Place of Birth: Dhumuga, Oromiya, Ethiopia
- Age: 35 (as of 2022)
- Zodiac Sign: Taurus
- Secondary School: Cilaalo secondary school
- University: Stanford University (B.A.); Columbia University (M.A.)
- Father: Siraj Mohammed
- Mother: Not Available
- Sibling: Not Available
- Married/Single: Married
- Wife: Arfaase Gemeda
- Children: 1
- Net Worth: $1 Million – $5 Million
- Source of income: Activism
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who is Jawar Mohammed? Jawar Mohammed is an Ethiopian-born prominent activist and politician who is the head of the Qerro movement.
- When is the birthday of Jawar Mohammed? Jawar Mohammed celebrates his birthday on May 12 every year.
- What is the birthplace of Jawar Mohammed? Jawar was born in a small town Dhumuga, located in the Oromiya region of Ethiopia
- Is Jawar Mohammed married? Yes, Jawar is married to a woman named Arfaase Gemeda.
- When did Jawar Mohammed get married? Jawar Mohammed got married in 2009.
- Does Jawar Mohammed have any child? Yes, Jawar is blessed with a child.
- Is Jawar Mohammed dead or alive? Jawar is alive; he is currently living in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.