Philippines consider challenges for World Interfaith Harmony Week

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Philippines consider challenges for World Interfaith Harmony Week Published in Interfaith News - Oceania News 25 Jan 2012 Written by Administrator

Inviting the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, New Peoples Army and other insurgent groups to interfaith harmony and peace dialogue will be a big challenge, the Zamboanga City-based local organizers of the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012 celebration said.

"It's an idea, a crazy idea, but this great idea can also to my mind on some other occasion. I think no matter how the things they (rebels) do they probably can tell us us why they are doing this," Silsilah Dialogue Movement founder Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra said during a press conference with local media on Monday. But D'Ambra doubts if they can easily achieve a harmony with the said rebel and militant groups "because that will be a miracle, only in the Philippines, this miracle can happen." He said in spite of this a reflection of something can be done together.

"Of course, no promises of any but just a kind of sincere sharing with some. If their real leaders can not come because they're afraid they can send somebody to tell us that this is their (of Abu Sayyaf, MILF and others) voice. We will see what will happen. That's a great challenge to us," he said. For Professor Ali Yacub, Muslim convener of the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), the challenge to invite the Abu Sayyaf, MILF and other groups can be done but the challenge not to be arrested them especially those wanted and with warrant of arrest is a very impossible thing.

"We can guarantee the invitation but by not arresting, we can't guarantee," said Prof. Yacub, also the president of Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders and Affiliates (GCCPBA).

The United Nation General Assembly encourages all States to support, on a voluntary basis, the spread of the message of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world's churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship during the week long celebration.

It is based on love of God and love of one's neighbor or on love of the good and love of one's neighbor, each according to their own religious traditions or convictions.

Former school superintendent Dr. Abdurrahman Keno of the Department Education explained that the purpose of celebrating WIFHW is to create awareness on all people of the world that there is such harmony through interfaith dialogue.

"I can say without any contradictions that if there are hundreds of Abu Sayyaf, there are 10 or 20 more of them who are real Muslims that subscribe to harmony and dialogue through interfaith dialogue," he said.

Prof. Alzad Sattar, another organizer of WIFHW, said the idea of inviting the rebels and others to interfaith harmony and peace is possible but in a different level. "This is a challenge for us. We should not stop until we die insha-Allah (in God's will)."

But a local human rights and peace advocate who specializes international humanitarian law and rules of engagement opposed the idea of inviting Abu Sayyaf and NPA to interfaith dialogue, saying that terrorists will not respond to the invitation and do not want to be recognized as a group.

He instead challenged the media to reaching out to rebels through radio, television and newspapers.

"We can not invite a group purely Abu Sayyaf, NPA or international terrorists under Bin Laden, although we can conduct a forum in a particular barangay, where they will join the masses, the group of people, without identifying themselves," he said.

By Hader Glang
Source: Zamboanga Today