Muslims in Manila assail Abu Sayyaf

MANILA, Philippines — Muslim community groups led simultaneous interfaith rallies Friday to denounce the Abu Sayyaf bandits’ abduction of three aid workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and to appeal for their immediate and safe release.

Muslims and Christians gathered at the Golden Mosque in Manila, Blue Mosque in Taguig City, and Salam Mosque in Quezon City also to call on the military not to pursue operations for the release of the hostages.

“They shouldn’t simply interpret the [bandits’] threats as bluffs because what are at stake here are people’s lives. What if they go on with it? If [the military] has to pull out, then it should pull out,” Pendatun Disimban, national president of the Assalam Bangsamoro People’s Association (ABPA), told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In a statement, the Muslim groups said they were supporting genuine societal change, including the demilitarization of the Moro homeland and the grant of the right of self-determination to the Bangsamoro.

“We cannot, however, be blind to the violent and un-Islamic wrongdoing of these kidnappers who pretend to be Muslims,” they said.

Addressing a crowd in Manila, Disimban said the violent act of kidnapping innocent people was against Islamic beliefs and did not help people understand Islam.

Elections Commissioner Elias Yusop, the imam at Friday’s “utba,” or prayer, also condemned the Abu Sayyaf and called for the peaceful release of the hostages.

In the joint statement issued by ABPA, Aksyon ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa and People’s Solidarity Action for Peace, the Muslim groups also called for the crisis management group not to use the kidnapping for its interests in the 2010 elections and remain “unfaltering and truthful in handling the situation.”

They appealed to Muslims and other religious groups in Mindanao to break their silence and stand up against the Abu Sayyaf’s “inhuman acts that not only violated the human rights of the victims but [portrayed] all Muslims of the world in bad light.”

Disimban invited the people to a grand interfaith rally to be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday in Plaza Miranda in downtown Manaila to continue calling for a peaceful resolution to the problems in Mindanao.

He said actor Robin Padilla, a Muslim convert, and Senator Richard Gordon, chairman the Philippine National Red Cross, had been invited.

Erika Sauler, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on March 28, 2009 at 10:25 am  Comments Off on Muslims in Manila assail Abu Sayyaf  
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