COTABATO CITY – Some 3,000 Muslim and Christian residents staged an unprecedented walk for peace on major streets in Metro Manila and converged at the Quezon City circuit avenue on Sunday to cool down public emotions stemming from the earlier bombings on Jolo, Sulu’s cathedral and a suburb masjid (mosque) in Zamboanga City.
National TV network footages showed hundreds of police elements in civilian clothes joining Christian and Muslim residents in marching side by side, chanting peace and unity slogans, and waving banners and streamers bearing messages against any form violence.
The event became mere heart-touching when a Catholic priest and an imam, both of the Metro Manila police forces, led their respective folks in forging a covenant for peace and unity. The priest and the imam prominently raised hands holding a copy of Qur’an and a Bible, respectively, to dramatize their call for interfaith harmony.
A few hours after the conduct of the event with substantial media coverage, dozens of Facebook nitizens in various parts of Mindanao deleted one after another their posts that tended to be insensitive if not provocative..
Among those messages noticeably deleted where posts that read: “Muslim are using religion for terrorism;” Allah is bullshit;” “Christians are land grabbers;” “P—-g mo Duterte;” and the like.
Officials here well as elected leaders in other southern cities have lauded the walk for peace event, saying the event had effectively cooled down emotions brewing over the death of 22 people and wounding of over 100 parishioners in the Jan. 27 twin bombings of Jolo’s Mount Carmel Cathedral and the killing of two Muslim worshippers and wounding of four others in Zamboanga City’s Talon-Talong mosque two days later.
They particularly appreciated the sponsorship of the event by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). Declaring that the agency has become “relevantly more active now a days.”
In a statement, NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangurangan said they organized the activity to remind Filipinos that “the lives of Muslims and Christians are connected in more ways than one.”
Sec. Pangarungan cited a verse in the Qur’an, which says:“If anyone slays a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew all people. And if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all people.”
NCMF spokesman Jun Alonto-Datu Ramos said “all religious profess peace and the believers ought to be peaceful and caring.”
Datu Ramos said the NCMF secretary has directed all their regional offices across the country to propagate the same message, and initiate steps that would enlist Muslim and non-Muslim sectors in the fight against violence ideology or fanatical extremism. (Ali G. Macabalang)