Marawi conflict not about religion say bishops

The conflict in the Philippine city of Marawi is not about religion say Filipino bishops. They are urging all faiths to work together.

“We heard and read truly amazing stories of how the Muslims protected us and helped Christians avoid an almost certain death. Now Christians are helping thousands of Muslims who have fled from Marawi.

“These are indisputable signs that there is no religious war”, they said in a statement on Monday.

“We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more!”

Mindanao Islamic religious scholars and leaders agree with the bishops.

According to an Agenzia Fides report they “deplore the ‘violent extremist group of Maute [ISIS] in Marawi, who, swearing allegiance to Islam, contradicted the fundamental principles of Islam by abducting and killing innocent people’”.

Christian and Muslim leaders have suggested the government take “an inclusive approach to resolve the crisis, involving Islamic leaders and placing them in the forefront of negotiations”.

Agenzia Fides also says in different parts of the Philippines interreligious initiatives have started. In Cebu for example, an island north of Mindanao, reports say “Muslim communities have invited people of different faiths to ‘respect and love each other’ to promote peace”.

Catholics and local Islamic leaders have also held an interreligious prayer meeting in Cebu city, while in Quezon City, Manila, upwards of 1,000 Muslims and Christians gathered to pray in a show of unity at noon on 7 July.

The majority of Marawi’s mostly Muslim population of 200,000 people have fled since its occupation. Nearly 400 people have been killed in the fighting in the city so far.


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