Mamasapano Massacre Rekindled Christian-Muslim Distrust – US

Washington, 09 Dzulqa’dah 1437/12 August 2016  (MINA) – The Mamasapano fighting in which 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) and 18 Muslim guerrillas were killed rekindled distrust between Muslims and Christians as shown in social media and public statements, but there were no reports of persecution of Muslims based on their religion, a US State Department report said.

In its 2015 annual report on International Religious Freedom, the State Department also said the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued to be an important topic of national discussion in the Philippines.

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Religious scholars and leaders within the Muslim community as well as Catholic and Protestant churches said that while relations among religious groups were generally amicable, tension between different religious and ethnic groups – especially in conflict-affected areas – existed.

Muslims concentrated in some of the most impoverished provinces continued to state that the government had not made sufficient efforts to promote their economic development, particularly in securing peace and order to encourage additional private investment, Philstar quoted the report as saying.

The Commission on Human Rights and the Presidential Task Force on Interreligious and Intercultural Concerns, which monitors issues relating to religious freedom, received no complaints or cases involving the abuse of religious freedom during the year, the report said.

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The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, a government agency whose objective is to promote the rights of Muslim Filipinos, also received no reports of persecution of Muslims based on their religion.

By law, public schools must ensure the religious rights of students are protected. Muslim girls may wear the hijab and are not required to wear shorts during physical education classes.

The report said violent incidents in many rural areas in the south were frequently associated with rido, or clan warfare.

Because religion and ethnicity are often closely linked, it is difficult to categorize many incidents as being solely based on religious identity, it said.

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Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)