From Kamlon to Maute » Manila Bulletin News

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Floro M. Mercene

By Floro M. Mercene

 

There is a common narrative that runs in every Muslim rebellion, from Kamlon to the Maute brothers of today – the demand for economic emancipation and religious equality.

The National Anti-Poverty Commission said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remains the poorest among all the regions.

The poor are easily convinced to join any kind of criminal activity. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” the Bible says.

Are Christians biased against the Muslims in the Philippines?

This is what British Ambassador Asif Ahmad, a Muslim, had to say about that state of affairs.

“In the UK, Muslims and Jews prayed together for the bereaved in Manchester. No one has turned this into a Christian-Muslim fight.”

Ahmad said the issue of Muslims in the Philippines “is not just about that island in the south.” It is about Metro Manila, the school curriculum, “about history, ‘about knowing who you are as a people.”

“Because, unless you know who you are, you will never be the country that you have to be.”

We grew up reading that Magellan “discovered” the Philippines.

“What was here before he came?”

“There were indigenous people and Arab seamen from Southeast Asia, similar to what existed then in neighboring Malaysia or Indonesia.”

“All of your coastal cities, including Manila, were majority Muslim cities but changed later on through period of colonization,” he said.

“But the default position of the Philippines is that although the Constitution separates state and church, in all respects it is the Catholic Republic of the Philippines.”

“Which is not a bad thing because there’s the Islamic republic of Pakistan, and the UK example, where the Queen is the head of the church.”

“But it is honest, it is out there, that’s who we said we are,” he said.

“And if you do that, you can make provisions to actually define the role of minority communities that have their rights and they can demand resources, and they can have respect for their culture and a commitment to history, that they are legitimate people.”

“Muslims and Christians have to mix. It is part of humanity and spirituality.”

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