PH military chief says he was misunderstood on statement vs terror recruitment in Islamic schools
MANILA, Philippines—Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay sought to clarify a statement attributed to him that supposedly tagged madrasahs, or Islamic schools, as a breeding ground for terrorism.
Gapay said his statement was misunderstood.
“I never said that madaris are spreading radicalization or sowing terrorism among its students because I believe that Islam is a religion that espouses peace,” said Gapay, referring to madrasah by its other term, madari.
“What I meant to say was there are unscrupulous individuals wanting to infiltrate schools to do just that—spread hate and plant the seeds of terrorism,” he said in a statement on Friday (Oct. 23).
He recently told members of the foreign media that the military would monitor terrorist groups which might have been using Islamic schools to recruit the youth.
His comments drew sharp reactions from Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman and Muslim religious organizations.
“It is dangerous and unfair, and it serves no real purpose but to unjustly put our schools in a very compromising situation,” Hataman said in reaction to Gapay’s supposed statement.
Gapay said he did not intend to offend anyone with his comments. “I am mindful as I am concerned that I might have offended the feelings of some of our Muslim leaders, brothers and sisters. That was never intended,” he said.
He said he was reaching out to Muslim leaders to further clarify his statements.
“I am initiating a dialogue through the help of well-meaning individuals. I am confident that by listening to each other, we can thresh out and resolve issues,” Gapay said.
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