Marawi’s displaced offer prayers for Christians killed in 2017 siege
MARAWI CITY –– More than a thousand Maranaos, including internally displaced persons and religious leaders, gathered at Ground Zero of the 2017 siege here on Friday to offer prayers to those who perished in the siege, including Christians.
Musa Sultan, president of Saksi Islamic Radio Forum, who organized the event “Saksi Prayer for Peace,” said they included in their congregational prayer those who did not survive the siege, including the Christians who were taken hostage.
Ground Zero of the fighting between government forces and the Islamic State-inspired terror group that lasted five months in 2017 has been referred to by the government as the city’s most affected area (MAA) of the siege.
“We are here in the most affected area to pray to Allah for all those who died, whether Christian or Muslim,” Sultan said.
Of more than a thousand estimated to have died during the siege, more than a hundred were security forces and civilians trapped in the fighting.
The military claimed the majority of those killed were IS-inspired terrorist fighters but this has not been independently verified.
Remembering the dead
The families of at least 10 construction workers, who died as hostages in the hands of terrorists, scheduled a visit at the Maqbara cemetery in Barangay Papandayan Caniogan and the MAA, to light candles and offer flowers but the plan did not push through, said Evelyn Powao, wife of one of the workers.
More than 200 unidentified bodies retrieved from Ground Zero while the war was raging and afterward, were buried at Maqbara, the city’s only Muslim public cemetery.
The Jumaat prayer last Friday was the first-ever done inside the MAA since after the 2017 siege.
Sultan said they offered the Jumaat to pray to Allah for their return to their respective communities so that they could start repairing their houses destroyed by the war.
Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario said in a press briefing on Oct. 17, the second year of Marawi liberation, that residents of sectors 1 to 6 in the MAA could start rebuilding their houses as long as they complied with all the requirements, such as building permits and clearances for power and water connections.
But Hadji Abdul Gapor, an Imam of Lake View transitory shelter in Barangay Boganga, said there were houses in the MAA, which were not yet destroyed but only needed repairs.
“I hope owners of those slightly damaged houses would be allowed to go home,” Gapor said.
The Maranaos also prayed for lasting peace in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.
Mara Macarambon said the prayer could also be the beginning of a “harmonious relationship between the military and the constituents of Marawi.”
“Military presence here (in Marawi) is very important but we have to observe cultural sensitivity,” Macarambon said. /lzb
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