Solon warns AFP vs ‘sweeping generalizations’ about Muslim schools
MANILA, Philippines — Madrasas or Muslim schools are centers of “peace and learning,” and are not breeding ground for terrorists, a lawmaker said Friday, warning the military to be cautious in associating the institutions with violent extremists.
Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman issued the statement after Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said security forces are looking into the possibility of radicalization in madrasas that could explain the growing number of suicide bombers in the Philippines.
Hataman said the military should “more circumspect” in releasing such statements that may tend to put Muslim schools in a bad light. He said that he himself is a product of a Muslim school and that he never heard of any teaching about terrorism.
“Sa katunayan, tinuturuan kami dito na huwag gumawa ng masama at manakit ng kapwa,” Hataman said.
(In fact, we are being taught not to do evil and to hurt others.)
The lawmaker said the Armed Forces should not be issued this statement without presenting irrefutable proof of its existence.
“It is dangerous and unfair, and it serves no real purpose but to unjustly put our schools in a very compromising situation,” Hataman said.
“While I also share the deep concern of the Armed Forces on the existence of Filipino suicide bombers at present, I would not go as far as to associate these terrorists to our madrasas,” he added.
He went on: “Our schools are institutions of peace and learning, and are not breeding grounds for violent extremists and terrorist.”
If the AFP has proof of its claims, the former governor of the now-defunct ARMM said it should file cases against persons involved instead of making sweeping generalizations against Muslim schools.
“Bilang isang magulang, natatakot ako sa statement na ito ng AFP. Pano kung ang anak ko ay nag-aaral sa isang madrasa? Ano ang mararamdaman ng mga estudyante na sila pala ay iniimbestigahan na? Kawawa ang mga bata,” Hataman stated.
(As a parent, I am terrified of this statement by the AFP. What if my child is attending a madrasa? How will the students feel that they are being investigated? Poor kids.)
Aside from students, teachers and school officials will also be put in danger by these rash statements as it will only fuel speculations and further discrimination against the Muslim community, he added.
“Like the police profiling issue involving Muslim students in Metro Manila early this year, associating madrasas with terrorism is the kind of act that makes terrorists, not prevent them. We are only encouraging disillusionment instead of enlightenment among our young. Kaya ito delikado,” the human rights activist said.
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