Pictures of a rainbow welcoming Barack Obama to Addis Ababa, shared online, have sparked controversy amongst users on Facebook.
Some of the pictures show Air Force One fly past a beautiful rainbow hanging in the skies over the Ethiopian capital during its final approach on Sunday afternoon, while others show the view from the runway of Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
— Mady Yonas (@Madyyon) 26. Juli 2015
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs posted a picture to his Facebook page, captioned: ‘President Barack Obama just landed in #AddisAbaba #Ethiopia for his three days official visit. Stunning #Rainbow on the skies of Addis as he landed.’
Ethiopian users were quick to share their opinions and interpretations: while the majority of commenters some saw it as a gift to Obama and the country, or as a good omen, the comment section quickly turned homophobic.
One user said the rainbow was Ethiopia’s flag, given to them as a gift from God but hijacked by the LGBTI community, whose ‘flag should be black like devils coz they are devils’.
‘This rainbow is sign of God’s protection from every evil activities like obama’s government allow homosexual not sign of well come,’ another user wrote.
‘So be careful mr obama to your agendas and activities for this 2 days cuz this is Ethiopia not American or Kenya.’
Another user said: ‘Don’t forget ! In Our motherland Ethiopia , the rainbow symbolizes God’s promise for mankind , not homosexuality!’
On his visit to Kenya last week, Obama had made his position on gay rights clear during a press conference, saying people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
‘No dirty gay marriage in our continent Africa’ demanded one user, while another welcomed the President but asked him to ‘please keep your homosexual agenda in Air Force One before u step on the holy land. Thanks.’
Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia and can be punished by a prison sentence of up to 15 years; Obama is expected to address this issue during his visit. He is the first serving US President to visit Ethiopia.