‘Maute stole Eid’l Fitr from us’ » Manila Bulletin News

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by Camcer Ordonez Imam

Iligan City – This was the grief felt by Muslim residents of Marawi City, who had to fled their homes after Maute Group terrorists laid siege on their city, resulting in fierce fighting with government forces that has been going on for more than a month.

“This is the saddest Eid’l Celebration in recent memory,” said Assembly Zia Alonto Adiong, a member of the legislative body of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee, in a statement said.

DEEP SORROW – Female Muslim residents of Marawi City in traditional ‘hijab’ clothing, who are currently staying at evacuation centers in Iligan City, pray during Eid’l Fitr Sunday that was bereft of the usual joyous celebration that comes with the end of the holy month of Ramadan. (AFP | Manila Bulletin)

Adiong said the presence of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group deprived the city’s Muslim devotees of properly celebrating Eid’l Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

“This local militant group robbed us the chance to observe Ramadhan peacefully and stole from us the opportunity to celebrate Eid’l Fitr and be with our loved ones in this religious occasion. For centuries, this Islamic tradition has been observed uninterrupted until now,” he said.

“It pains us to see families who can’t even share meals together, pray together and continue observing our current state doesn’t permit such ‘family gathering’ to take place, he added.”

A Christian evacuee, a long resident of Marawi, likened the grief felt by his Muslim neighbors to that of “Christians being robbed of celebrating Christmas.”

This year’s Eid’l Fitr celebration lacked the joyous spirit usually associated with one of the most important Muslim religious celebrations.

Most of the 264,000 residents in Marawi are staying in various evacuation centers and in their relatives’ homes in the two provinces of Lanao, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental and other parts of Mindanao.

The military declared an eight-hour “humanitarian pause” in its offensive against the Maute Group as a show of respect to the observance of the Eid’l Fitr last Sunday.

The temporary cessation of hostilities began at 6 p.m., and ended at 2 p.m.

It was approved by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, on the recommendation of Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).

“We declare a lull in our current operations in the city on that day as a manifestation of our high respect to the Islamic faith,” the military said in a statement.

The humanitarian pause, Año said, was “a testimony to the AFP’s solid commitment to provide our brother Muslims especially in the City of Marawi an opportunity to observe this festive event marking the end of the month-long period of Ramadan.

The military, however, clarified that the AFP’s offensive operations “will only cover a halt in the employment of its capabilities during the inclusive period.”

On Monday, the military said encounters with the local terror group were waning and has been occurring fewer and far between.

It also announced during a press conference that several hundreds of firearms and communication equipment have been recovered from the enemies.

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