A Muslim landowner in the Philippines took in Christians to protect them from Islamist extremists

la-1502932681-rdvb95bmr2-snap-imageWhen the first artillery fire rang out one afternoon in May, Norodin Lucman thought of the four workers repairing a cellphone tower on his sprawling property. He sent one of his daughters to tell the men to come in.

Plumes of smoke spiraled up from the city below. But Marawi, home to 200,000 people, had survived armed conflict before, and Lucman assumed this one would end in a few days and his guests would go home.

Soon, though, more people began arriving at his door. Militants were torching homes and schools, freeing prisoners, taking hostages and waving Islamic State flags.

The militants had stopped another group of cell tower workers and demanded that they recite the Shahada, a Muslim proclamation of faith. Marawi is predominantly Muslim. But the men were Christians from nearby cities. They failed the test.

When one tried to escape on his motorbike, the militants shot him dead. Amid the chaos, the nine others managed to flee to Lucman’s house.

The Philippine government sent helicopter gunships and tanks to root out the insurgents, who were being funded by Islamic State and soon saw their ranks swell as fighters arrived from Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Chechnya.

The fighting, which continues today, has reduced the city to its foundations, evoking Iraq’s Mosul or Syria’s Aleppo.

But Lucman didn’t know any of that was coming as his house became a refuge.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

 

Advertisements

“Stunning Stories” of Muslims Saving Christians in the Philippines Hailed by Church Leaders

marawi-city

Roman Catholic church leaders in the Philippines have hailed the “stunning stories” of Muslims saving Christians from the Islamic State terrorist group in Marawi, and said that Christians are also helping thousands of Muslims.

“We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more!” the Philippine bishops said in a statement on Monday, as reported by Catholic News Agency.

The IS-backed Maute militants in Marawi, who attacked and captured parts of the city at the end of May, have carried out vast atrocities. The militants are said to be torturing civilians, including the minority Christian population there, and are using people as sex slaves and human shields.

The Filipino military said on Tuesday that as many as 500 people have been killed in the battle for the city, with 381 of them believed to be IS-linked fighters. The civilian death toll has also been rising, Al Jazeera reported.

Some local reports have said that as many as 2,000 civilians may have been killed so far, though army officials have said that such numbers stem from “unverified reports.”

The Catholic bishops insisted in their statement that the war is “not religious,” and said that Muslim and Christian civilians have been helping each other escape the radical militants.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Muslims, Christians have a tearful exchange of roses on Eid’l Fitr in the Philippines

A distance from the devastation and turmoil in Marawi City was a peaceful moment—Christians and Muslims exchanged flowers in celebration of Eid al-Fitr at an evacuation community in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte on Sunday.

The interreligious gesture brought tears to some Muslim women of the 180 families seeking shelter in the Iligan City National School of Fisheries, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) reported on their website.

DDJHBZUVYAEmBAu

“The OPAPP is currently conducting a series of ‘social healing’ activities in Lanao del Norte that aim to restore trust and respect among the different ethno-religious groups in the affected areas,” the article said.

With the ongoing crisis in Marawi proving to be a challenge for Maranao unity, the residents who have spent a month in the facility took part in an OPAPP-hosted celebratory program welcoming the end of Ramadan.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GMA NETWORK (PHILIPPINES)

Muslim and Christian Youths in the Philippines “Hi” on Peace

“It’s very overwhelming to communicate with Muslims [and finding] that they’re the same as me. It felt great. And they were just as overwhelmed with us. They really want to show that they are not the people we think they are. They’re the same as any of us. They’re not people we should be afraid of,” said Sandra, one of the Christian students participating in a mass videoconference.

Almost 25 years to the day, a new kind of people power is beginning in the Philippines. This one is taking place “virtually,” on giant screens, instead of live on the streets, but the seeds of change that are being planted offer the same kind of hope.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PHILIPPINE  DAILY INQUIRER