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South Philippines Muslims burn US, Israeli flags

Publication Date : 18-09-2012


About 600 Maranaos angered by the “insulting depiction of Prophet Mohammad” in the allegedly Jewish-financed film “Innocence of Muslims” burned huge replicas of the American and Israeli flags during a rally in downtown Marawi City in southern Philippines yesterday morning.

Abul Alibasa, chairman of the Network of Maranao Youth Leaders and Professionals, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that the rally was “spontaneous” and was principally attended by youth and women “who vented their ire about the film’s degradation” of Mohammad whom Muslims revere.

“We are condemning neither the US nor the Americans but only the filmmaker, scriptwriter and supporter of the film,” Alibasa said, describing it as “anti-Islam, antireligion and antihumanity.”

Marawi City Councillor Abdani Alonto said local legislators were firming up a resolution to be sent to the US Embassy condemning the film.

Activists said the film was a result of an “orchestration of Zionism and the US.”

“We are not terrorists or an angry mob. We are the voice of the oppressed Muslim Ummah (community) around the globe whose brothers in occupied Palestine are suffering,” said one protester.

“We are the voice of Muslim believers whose religion is being ridiculed … We are the oppressed people defending what is left of us, our dignity,” the protester added.

Calls for sobriety

Some activists, however, said some of the organisers regretted the burning of the American flag, noting that the United States had been providing funding for development projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Earlier, acting ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman called on Muslims to be “more sensible instead of being sensitive.” He said the film “could be a ploy to stir conflict that could push individuals to wrongdoing, which could generally be attributed to Muslims and destroy the image of Islam.”

In a joint statement, ARMM regional legislators Majul Gandamra and Samira Gutoc-Tomawis said, “While we are aggrieved in the degrading imagery against the Prophet, let this be a time to also aggressively produce more multimedia materials about Islam and tell the world that indeed Nabi is a messenger of humanity.”

“Let YouTube be an instrument (for understanding), not an enemy,” they added.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has called on Muslims “to stay calm.”

“If Muslims surrender to anger, they will achieve the satanic objectives of those who are behind the production of this offensive movie,” said Sheikh Mohammad Muntassir, head of the MILF Da’wah Committee.

He urged countries “to criminalise antireligious acts, be they against Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any other recognised world religions.”
“Individual freedom does not warrant or justify the invasion of others’ freedom even in the name of freedom of speech,” Muntassir said.

In a statement Monday, Sulu Representative Tupay Loong also appealed for sobriety. “We would also appeal to the US government to immediately stop the showing of this film to pacify the fuming emotion of Muslims throughout the world,” he said.

Aquino can’t ban film

President Benigno Aquino told reporters yesterday that while he could not ban the film, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) could slap it with an “X” rating to prevent it from being shown in public.

“The MTRCB may have the power (to classify) it. Don’t forget that the freedom of expression is in the Constitution, isn’t it, and also there are laws against limiting the freedom of speech? That’s not allowed. I don’t think I can do it,” the President said in an ambush interview in Lucena City.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) announced yesterday there was no imminent threat to the US Embassy, its personnel and other members of the diplomatic community in the Philippines.

Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the PNP was providing security to the official residences of US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. and his staff and officials of other embassies.

“We are doing what we can to safeguard them, complemented by our continuous monitoring if there are possible threats,” said the PNP spokesperson.

With reports from Ryan D. Rosauro, Edwin O. Fernandez, Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao; Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Michael Lim Ubac, Leila B. Salaverria and Marlon Ramos in Manila


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