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 

 

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

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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.

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“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)

Muslims help rebuild Catholic church in the Philippines

christ-the-king-chapel-in-zamboanga-philippines-2ZAMBOANGA CITY – Christian residents of this city’s Santa Catalina district found nothing unusual about Muslims bearing carpenters’ tools — until they realized the Muslims had volunteered to help rebuild a Catholic chapel.

“We thought they were just looking for damaged mosques to rebuild,” said Jimmy Villaflores, Santa Catalina barangay (village) head.

But to the surprise of the mostly Christian residents, the Muslims, a number of them residents Zamboanga City who returned home from abroad recently, announced they had come to Santa Catalina to rebuild the Christ the King chapel.

Built in the early 1980′s, the chapel on Martha Drive was razed by one of many fires t6hat broke out during a three-week battle between government forces and a band of Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas loyal to MNLF founder Nur Misuari last September.

When the fighting ended, only the chapel’s back wall and altar were left. The 100-year-old wooden image of the Christ the King, which was regularly used in major religious processions here, did not survive the flames.

“We have not heard of any Muslim helping build a chapel before,” Villaflores said.

But before the Christians could say anything to the Muslims, they went to work, sawing lumber, driving in nails and doing other things to rebuild the chapel.

“We are very happy about it. Santa Catalina residents are deeply touched by their efforts. We really appreciate how our Muslim brothers and sisters are helping us,” Villaflores said.

He said that the help extended by Zamboanga’s Muslim residents, who suffered equally during the three-week siege, hastgened the rebuilding of the chapel.

“Barely a month since the work began our chapel is about 90 percent completed already,” he said.

Father Michael Ufana of the Saint Joseph parish said he was overwhelmed by what the Muslims had shown.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INQUIRER 

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Celebrating a Hybrid Holiday (Muslim-Christian)

hybridWe have no belen or images of the Holy Family to mark Christmas in our household. Nor will our Noche Buena table feature a succulent lechon or glazed ham. As far as our Christian-Muslim family is concerned, these are mere trimmings to the real meaning of the season.

Like most families, we look forward to Christmas, excitedly dusting off the Christmas tree in our Quezon City home, and making plans for what to serve for Noche Buena. We’ve also begun buying Christmasgifts early.

But don’t look for the traditional belen or manger scene, pictures or images of the Holy Family, or the succulent lechon on our Christmas table.

Ours is a Christian-Muslim union, and we celebrate what our daughter describes as a hybrid Christmas.

It’s not as strange as it sounds, and might in fact be expected in our household.

Unlike most intra-religious and intercultural marriages, my wife—Annora Sahi Nocum, a Tausug Muslim from Siasi, Sulu—and I opted to hold on to our respective religions instead of converting each other.

As a former Claretian seminarian partly educated by the Dominicans at UST, I have remained a Catholic, while my wife remains a Muslim.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER