Fight social injustice to end terrorism in Mindanao, prelate tells gov’t
The government should step up in fighting social injustice, particularly in Mindanao, if it wants to counter violent extremism in the country.
This was the opinion of Cotabato archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, who stressed that military intervention alone is not enough in combatting terrorism.
In an article on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website, the prelate pointed out that terrorism is rooted in social injustice and historic prejudice between Christians and Muslims.
“Terrorism has its roots in injustices, discrimination, poverty, underdevelopment, government neglect, poor governance, and in historic biases and prejudices between Muslims and Christians,” Quevedo said.
He added: “Government has to address the economic and political roots of terrorism… These issues demand long term engagement.”
Quevedo made the remarks amid the efforts of government troops to capture members of the Maute terrorist group, which has been wreaking havoc in Marawi City since last month.
The Maute terrorist group has claimed to have pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State.
Stressing that it has become “more imperative and indispensable,” Quevedo pointed out the need for more inter-religious dialogues between Muslims and Christians to help end violent extremism.
He cited the Bishops-Ulama Conference, which is consisted of Catholic bishops, Protestant leaders and Muslim ulama who meet regularly to conduct dialogues on concerns of mutual interest.
Other dioceses have replicated this and now hold inter-religious dialogues with faith leaders and lay people of different religions.
“Religious leaders of different faiths, educational institutions and churches have to effectively address the deep-seated biases, prejudices and erroneous religious beliefs beginning with the young,” he said.
He added that it is the task of religious leaders to address false beliefs, mutual, deep-seated biases and prejudice which sometimes “explode into the open.”
Correcting or reducing biases must begin in early childhood through parenting at home, formal and informal education, religious schools, and in daily life like in places of work, schools, markets and the streets.
“While it may not be possible to dialogue with terrorist themselves, their religious scholars could convince them of their erroneous Qur’anic interpretation,” he said.
He added that terrorists and disillusioned youths may be dissuaded by political action, such as the early approval of the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will be submitted to President Duterte.
“Peace and reconciliation, therefore, are not impossible. There is realistic hope despite terrorism. Ordinary Christians and Muslims want to continue living in peace,” Quevedo said. JPV/rga
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