From the Philippine News Agency (Sep 29): Marawi crisis 'symptom' of Mindanao conflict, religious leaders say
The Marawi City crisis and the displacement of thousands of civilians that ensued is just one of the many symptoms of the long-running conflict in Mindanao, Muslim and Christian religious 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,” said the joint statement signed by prominent religious figures in Mindanao that included Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ.
The group maintained that the Marawi crisis, which began on May 23 when authorities attempted to serve an arrest warrant for Isnilon Hapilon, a known leader of the terror group Abu Sayyaf, was not motivated by religious divisions but by 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," the Sept. 28 statement reads.
Aside from Bishop Ledesma, other signatories included Most Reverend Edwin de la Peña, the bishop prelate of Marawi; Mona Liza Pangan, a Marawi resident; 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.
“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 added.
The group issued the statement during their visit to the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome, Italy, for a dialogue on peace in Mindanao, recently.
They also upheld 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.”
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.
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.
The Marawi conflict has already displaced more than half a million civilians, with close to a thousand people already killed.