Boots in mosque: No disrespect, says Duterte
There was no disrespect meant when he, several officials, and soldiers entered the Grand Mosque in Marawi City with boots still on their feet, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday.
Mr. Duterte explained that they had kept their feet shod because the mosque, recently liberated by soldiers from Islamic State-allied extremists, was littered with broken glass and rubble that could have injured them.
Visitors to mosques are typically required to remove their shoes when entering the sacred place of worship for followers of Islam.
“They saw that it was full of rubble and glass. You could have been cut. And then what? You will get a tetanus shot again?” Mr. Duterte told reporters early Wednesday after visiting the wakes of two slain soldiers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig.
“I respect Islam… It was not meant to disrespect or dishonor. I just did not want us to get cut,” he added.
He further said that elderly people like him and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon did not want to get injured because they take a long time to heal.
The President also noted that he has roots in the largely Islamic Lanao del Sur.
Netizens had taken note of the officials’ wearing of shoes in the mosque.
They had also questioned the entry of Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson to the place of worship with her head uncovered. Women are usually required to cover their hair inside mosques.
Mr. Duterte last visited Marawi on Sept. 11, his fourth trip to the city since fighting broke out between government forces and Islamic State-allied extremist groups on May 23.
Mr. Duterte also said he and the other soldiers entered the mosque to take cover from the exchange of gunfire in the city.
“Before anything else, it is the right of preservation. That’s why we were made to stand by the area,” he said.
He had wanted to take a look at the fighting but the ground commander told him to stay put, he added.
Uson, in a post on her Facebook page, apologized to Muslims who were offended by her entry into the mosque.
Uson said she meant no disrespect when she entered the place, and explained that she just entered it because she was taking a video of the President’s visit to the area.
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