ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Filipino Muslims express solidarity with the Palestinian population

Thursday, 26 October 2023 humanitarian assistance   islam   solidarity  

Marawi city (Agenzia Fides) - Filipino Muslims express their solidarity with the Palestinian people subjected to bombings in Gaza and call for an end to Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip: the conflict in the Middle East is having repercussions in the Muslim communities of Asia, even in territories as distant as the South of the Philippines. On the island of Mindanao, in the southern part of the archipelago, there lives a large Muslim community of around 6 million people who have in the past demanded forms of autonomy and independence and - after decades that were also marked by conflicts and armed uprisings - the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, which includes the provinces with an Islamic majority. Filipino Muslims expressed their support and solidarity with their Muslim brothers in Palestine, showing that religious values and influences must also be taken into account in the conflict in the Middle East. In recent days, Muslim believers have gathered in Marawi City, where religious leaders have led protest rallies demanding an end to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories and a cessation of hostilities. Young Muslims have reported with concern about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. More than 20 Islamic groups, including “Maranao One Muhadarah”, “Royal Sultanate of Lanao”, “Moro Consensus Group”, “United Imam of the Philippines” had organized and participated in the rally. Drieza Lininding, chairman of the Moro Consensus Group, said leaders and the international community must put pressure on Israel to "stop the murder of innocent civilians, including children, women and the elderly." Support for the Palestinians also came from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a historic Muslim resistance group in Mindanao. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, a Filipino Muslim from the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, shared her experiences and compared them to the situation in Gaza. She recalled that her hometown on Jolo Island (near Mindanao) was devastated in a fierce clash between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front in 1974. Her house was razed to the ground, as were the houses of her friends, neighbors and relatives. A similar situation was repeated in Marawi City in 2017, where extremist Islamist groups took control of the city's town hall and municipal grounds. A house-to-house battle on the ground between the militants and the army ensued, leading to the devastation of Marawi. “Since then, I have done everything in my power to educate people about the reality of armed conflict and have become an advocate for peace,” said Amina, sharing her experiences in the podcast “She Talks Peace,” which listeners in over 100 countries and for which it is internationally recognized as a promoter of dialogue and peace between cultures and religions. At the local level, it calls on "the Philippine government to step up its efforts to implement the Global Agreement on the Bangsamoro (as the Filipino Muslims are known, editor's note) in Mindanao." Of the groups that have caused instability and insecurity in the region in recent years through terrorism, the "Abu Sayyaf" group has been completely eliminated and dissolved, according to local institutions, reports Abdusakur Tan, governor of Sulu province, a ring of smaller islands where Abu Sayaf had its bases. However, analysts are more cautious: the leaders of the militant group, which was responsible for suicide attacks until 2020, are still at large and could reorganize. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 26/10/2023)