COTABATO CITY, Philippines — A group of ulama (Islamic scholars) here called on Sulu officials to help secure the release of the Bansil sisters, who were abducted some two weeks ago by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Jolo, Sulu.
Ustadz Jaafar Ali, board member of the National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NCUP), also said Nadjoua Bansil, 39, and her sister Linda, 36, should be freed unconditionally by the group that has been holding them hostage since June 22.
The Bansils were filming a documentary on the Sulu Sultanate when snatched in Patikul town.
Several persons have been invited for questioning over their disappearance but information on the progress of the case has come in trickles.
Ali lamented that efforts by relatives of the victims, and concerned fellow Muslims, to reach out to the Abu Sayyaf have not yielded positive results so far.
“They could not establish a direct contact with the kidnappers but influential leaders of Sulu could intervene and secure their safe release,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer here.
Ali also took a shot at the Abu Sayyaf, also known as Harakatul Islamiyyah and has been claiming to champion the cause of Islam, as it has been targeting the very people who have been making contributions for the advancement of the faith.
Like their father, the late Aleem Abdulbassit, the siblings were known to espouse moderate Islam, in stark contrast with the Abu Sayyaf’s extremist view, he said.
When it was founded by Abdurajak Janjalani in the late 1980s, the Abu Sayyaf vowed to become a thorn in the neck of non-Muslim settlers and staged kidnappings here and there.
But Ali immediately believes that kidnapping in itself, regardless of who the victim was, is un-Islamic.
The NCUP has consistently denounced the Abu Sayyaf’s activities as these could not be found in any Islamic books.
Even from Koranic verses on Jihad, most Muslim scholars agreed that the Abu Sayyaf’s activities strayed.