Muslim and Christian groups in Manila held a charity dinner on June 8 to promote peace and fight what they described as anti-Islamic sentiments.
The event included a discussion on the security situation in the southern Philippines and “prejudices against Islam” especially in the Mindanao region.
Amirah Lidasan, secretary-general of the Moro-Christian People’s Alliance, said the activity was designed to foster unity and encourage inter-faith dialogue.
“We want to show that despite our differences, Muslims and Christians have a lot of things to share because we are all people of faith,” said Lidasan.
She said the rise of “religious extremism among misguided Muslims” and the “projection in media that Muslims are terrorists” fuels mistrust and fear of them.
Catholic Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, chairman of the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum said what fuels this fear and mistrust is public ignorance about Islam.
“As followers of Christ, we have to open our hearts and minds to understand other cultures and religions,” the prelate said.
“Dialogue leads to understanding and understanding leads to acceptance that would eventually result in peace,” he added.
Father Christopher Ablon of the Philippine Independent Church said intolerance of other faiths could be avoided “if we are capable of listening to our neighbors.”
“What is lacking is our sense of hearing. We do not listen to them and we perceive their grievances as superfluous,” he said.