Ethiopia to give ID cards to Rastafarians long stateless

AP News
Posted: Jul 27, 2017 11:39 AM

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia says it will issue national identity cards for the nearly 1,000 Rastafarians who long have been seen as stateless in the East African nation.

Thursday's announcement means they can enter without visas and live without residence permits. The move also affects Ethiopian Jews and foreign nationals who have made positive contributions.

A foreign ministry spokesman tells The Associated Press that three generations of Rastafarians have long been unable to enter and leave easily. Ethiopia's last emperor, Haile Selassie, granted land for black people who helped fight off Fascist Italian forces in the 1930s.

One member of the Rastafarian community who arrived in Ethiopia in 1982, Ras King, tells the AP everyone is "overjoyed" at the new identity cards.

Rastafarianism has followers who believe the Ethiopian emperor is god.