In­ter­faith group says vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, peace process linked

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Top Stories - By Jig­ger J. Jerusalem Cor­re­spon­dent

THE on­go­ing con­flict in Marawi City and the sub­se­quent dis­place­ment of thou­sands of civil­ians can be linked to many fac­tors af­fect­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Min­danao, a multi-sec­toral group com­posed of Chris­tian and Mus­lim lead­ers said.

“Marawi dra­ma­tizes for us three in­ter­con­nected chal­lenges to peace in Min­danao: vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism; the un­cer­tain­ties of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the po­lit­i­cal peace process; and the cru­cial role of re­li­gious lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ties in the re­build­ing and de­vel­op­ment of Marawi,” a Septem­ber 28 joint state­ment of the multi-sec­toral group said.

The state­ment was signed by Arch­bishop An­to­nio Ledesma, SJ, the head of the arch­dio­cese of Ca­gayan de Oro; Most Rev­erend Ed­win de la Peña, the bishop prelate of Marawi; Mona Liza Pan­gan, a wit­ness from Marawi; Dr. Said Zamah­sari Sal­endab, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Hay­atul Ulama; Dr. Us­tadz Ab­dul­muh­min Mau­jahid, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Re­gional Darul Ifta in the Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion in Mus­lim Min­danao; Dr. Mauro Garo­falo, head of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions of the Com­mu­nity of Sant’Egidio’; and Prof. Al­berto Qu­at­truci, sec­re­tary gen­eral of Peo­ples and Re­li­gions, also of the Com­mu­nity of Sant’Egidio.

The state­ment was writ­ten fol­low­ing the group’s visit in the Com­mu­nity of Sant’Egidio in Rome, Italy, for a di­a­logue on peace in Min­danao, re­cently.

In the state­ment, the group re­leased its seven dec­la­ra­tions. First in the dec­la­ra­tion is its be­lief that the con­flict in Marawi is not a re­li­gious war but of ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

“The many sto­ries of mu­tual as­sis­tance be­tween

Mus­lims and Chris­tians at­test to the re­jec­tion of this evil. These sto­ries of sol­i­dar­ity like­wise at­test to the Filipinos’ sense of shar­ing a com­mon hu­man­ity with any­one in need, re­gard­less of creed or com­mu­nity.

They also be­lieve that Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity are re­li­gions of peace as they call for the in­clu­sion of “peace ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els in our schools, madaris and com­mu­ni­ties.”

“We need to build a Cul­ture of Peace based on per­sonal in­tegrity, re­spect for hu­man rights, in­ter-cul­tural di­a­logue, care for the en­vi­ron­ment, peace­ful co­ex­is­tence and erad­i­ca­tion of poverty,” the group said.

In­ter-faith and in­tra-faith di­a­logue, they said, should be pro­moted as a means of un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­at­ing other cul­tures and re­li­gions and en­hanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion.

“This di­a­logue must move from the high­est level to the grass­roots level of so­ci­ety. Di­a­logue starts with self-ex­am­i­na­tion to re­move bi­ases and prej­u­dices.”

The group also wel­comed the cur­rent ef­forts at writ­ing a more in­clu­sive his­tory of Min­danao that ex­plores the root causes of con­flict and de­picts sig­nif­i­cant events and per­son­al­i­ties from Mus­lim and indige­nous peo­ple com­mu­ni­ties.

“We com­mit our­selves to reach out to our youth, who will be the fu­ture lead­ers of our Min­danao com­mu­ni­ties. They have so much to con­trib­ute to­wards build­ing our com­mu­ni­ties with a re­newed vi­sion of Min­danao as our shared home­land,” they said.

Like­wise, the group has ap­pealed to the leg­is­la­tors in Congress and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to pri­or­i­tize and ex­pe­dite the pas­sage of the pro­posed Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law as it pro­vides a pos­i­tive al­ter­na­tive to vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

Also, the group fully en­dorsed the call of “Duyog Marawi” (Ac­com­pany Marawi), spear­headed by the city’s Pre­la­ture of St. Mary to­gether with lo­cal gov­ern­ment units and civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“The united ef­forts of vol­un­teers of dif­fer­ent faiths are the best ex­am­ple of work­ing and liv­ing to­gether in peace and sol­i­dar­ity,” they fur­thered.

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