Phillipines: Muslim and Christian leaders unite against terrorists

By agency reporter
June 8, 2017

Muslim community leaders in the Philippines have expressed their support for the beleagured Christian community in Marawi. The crisis there began on 23 May 2017 when Islamist Maute terrorists occupied the city, torched the cathedral, burned down schools, and forced the civilian population to flee. They kidnapped about 200 people, including priest Fr Teresito (Chito) Suganob and 15 parishioners.

Several Muslim leaders have expressed their grave concern. Alim Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, vice president of the Ulama Council in Basilan condemned the profanation of the cathedral saying it was "non-Islamic".

The Governor of the autonomous Region of Mindanao, Mujiv Hataman has invited all Muslims in Mindanao to "condemn the action of terrorists linked to the Islamic State" and asked Muslims and Christians "not to fall in Maute’s trap" as it attempts to trigger social and religious conflict.

With the proclamation of martial law and the intervention of the Philippine army to free the city, the terrorists are now confined in a small area and are hiding in underground tunnels.

The army has captured Cayamora Maute, father of the two brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute, founders of the terrorist group. Although Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has officially said that "there will be no negotiations with the terrorists", the arrest of Cayamora Maute could be useful for informal negotiations aimed at the release of hostages who are now being used as human shields.

The Bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Pena said: "Fighting still continues in Marawi and we fear for the hostages. We have no news about their condition: They were kidnapped two weeks ago, they may need food, water and medicines, and they are surely exhausted. We pray for them."

The Bishop said he was appalled at the release of a video on social media, showing young armed militants desecrating statues and sacred images and destroying the cathedral.

"It is an immoral act of blasphemy. Terrorists want to instill hatred in Christians and provoke a reaction. Our reaction will only be prayer, brotherhood and interreligious solidarity that many Muslim friends have shown us recently. They have also been helping and defending the Christians of Marawi, " he said. "Our spirit is the evangelical spirit of love for the enemy".

* Independent Catholic News


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