Thursday, October 5, 2017

Remote East Samar town monitors ‘Balik Islam’ converts

From the Philippine News Agency (Oct 5): Remote East Samar town monitors ‘Balik Islam’ converts

The local government here confirmed efforts of some Muslims to convince locals in this town to join the Islamic faith, prompting them to be cautious of possible entry of radical movements.

Mayor Heraclio Santiago was, however, quick to say that they respect people’s decision to change religion as part of the so-called "Balik Islam" campaign.

"Balik Islam" is a worldwide phenomenon implying that those who embrace Islam are actually just returning to their previous faith.

Santiago said "Balik Islam" was introduced in their remote town in 2015 by converts from Nueva Ecija, Cavite, Tacloban City and from the nearby Dolores town, where there is a big community of Muslims.

More than a hundred residents of Maslog have been converted to Islam, according to Santiago.

Validated information from village officials revealed that preachers offered livelihood assistance, housing aid, and political influence in their communities.

Santiago added that although some of residents were convinced to change religion, most of them are not really that devoted to Islamic faith.

“Most of them are on 'wait and see' attitude if the promises given to them would really happen,” he added.

Latest verification by the Maslog Municipal Police Station shows more than 100 converts, about 66 of them decided to return to Roman Catholic faith.

“Maybe they got tired of waiting for the fulfillment of the promises, that’s why they decided to return to their former religion,” said town police chief, Insp. Michael Oraller.

Oraller stressed that even if they respect others people right to promote religion, they are also cautious on the entry of new faces in their town to ensure that no one propagates radical movement.

Maslog is a fifth class town in Eastern Samar, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 5,407 people. It can be reached from the national road in Dolores town through a three-hour boat ride. Dolores is 184 kilometers northeast of Tacloban.

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