* That’s right. Arroyo: ‘if they behave well we’ll give them a state, another one and another one… ‘
by Santosh Digal
In the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines ordinary citizens have started nightly patrols in the streets around churches to allow Catholics to celebrate “dawn masses” until Christmas.
Zamboanga (AsiaNews) â€“ On the first Sunday of Advent patrols made up of Muslim volunteers began a nightly watch to protect churches in the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Grateful to these young people who are providing “help and protection” during the Christmas period residents near these Christian places of worship are offering them food and drink.
As part of this muftis from Basilan, Lanao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces have issued fatwas or Islamic edicts to remind the faithful that terrorism is prohibited and that Muhammad himself guaranteed Christians protection and freedom of worship.
* Hmm. Not exactly. Can you smell the coffee already?
“I have promised them (Christian residents) equal protection, and I asked Muslims and Christians here to uphold mutual respect on matters of religious belief,” said Sukarno Utto, village chief in Shariff Kabunsuan in Maguindanao city. “For this reason we have joined the local police in nightly patrols, especially during the Simbang Gabi (dawn masses),” a Filipino tradition that goes back centuries in which mass begins every day at 4 pm in every church till Christmas Day.
* Did they pay the jiziyah?
Government authorities and the police have expressed “satisfaction” for the decision taken by Muslim civilians.
According to the local city police chief, Superintendent Willy Dangane, this initiative must be praised. “It is especially useful because if the police does all it can, it still needs real help from citizens if we want to maintain peace and stability.”
By Julie Alipala, Ed General
JOLO, Sulu–(UPDATE) Eight persons, including a Philippine Marine, were reportedly killed when a fierce fighting broke out between government security forces and Moro gunmen in Kalinggalang Caluang town in Sulu on Saturday, officials said.
Col. Cesario Atienza, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said six others were injured in the clash that occurred in Barangay (village) Pandan-pandan around 6 a.m.
Hizballah did this in Lebanon against Israel. Here is one reason why they may feel free to do this: ‘There are no civilians in Islam’
“Philippines: Muslim rebels use villagers as shields, say officials,” from AFP (via JW):
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFP) – Muslim insurgents used villagers as shields to evade pursuing Philippine soldiers on Saturday, leaving one dead and five wounded, military officials said.
It gets better by the day:
Philippines: “Christmas Day” jihadist an envoy from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University
“An explosive device fashioned from a 60-millimetre mortar round and ball bearings attached to a timing device were recovered from his room.”
Of course, Al-Azhar’s Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi insists this is all a mistake. (Getting caught usually is.) An update on this story. “Philippines ‘bomb plotter’ Islamic envoy: Egypt cleric,” from Agence France-Presse:
CAIRO (AFP) – An Egyptian man held in the Philippines for allegedly plotting a Christmas bomb attack is an envoy of Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning who was arrested by mistake, the insitution’s grand imam said on Sunday.
Al-Azhar’s Sheikh Mohammed Sayyid Tantawi told Egypt’s official MENA news agency that he was personally following up the case of Sheikh Mohammed al-Sayyid Ahmed Mussa who was arrested by police in the Philippines on Tuesday.
Tantawi aide Sheikh Abdel Fattah Allam said he expected Sheikh Mussa to be released on bail “in the next few hours”.
“The envoys of Al-Azhar abroad are chosen according to strict criteria to encourage moderation in Islam and the renunciation of violence and terrorism,” he added.
The religious affairs ministry issued a statement saying that Sheikh Mussa was being well treated but that there were contacts at the highest level between the two governments to try to secure his release.
“Sheikh Mussa is a man of faith who represents a prestigious religious institution,” the ministry said.
* Al Azahr: a ‘religious institution’ where bomb-making and ‘striking terror in the hearts of the infidels’ is the most important part of the curriculum.
JAKARTA (Reuters) – More than 17,000 police and soldiers have been deployed in the Indonesian capital to guard against a repeat of Christmas Eve attacks seven years ago, when Christian churches in the mainly Muslim nation were bombed.
There had been no intelligence reports of a possible attack by Islamic militants but police were taking no chances, Jakarta police spokesman Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said on Monday.
“We are anticipating any eventualities even though there are no indications of an attack,” he said.
Police will check churchgoers’ bags in some locations, another police officer said.
The coordinated bombings targeting churches on Christmas Eve in 2000 left 18 people dead nationwide.
The bombings and a series of other attacks that followed have been blamed on members of the Southeast Asian regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah.
Jakarta’s police chief, Adang Firman, said extra security would be provided to bigger churches.
“The threat of terror is always present,” he told Elshinta radio.
Volunteer groups, including members of Islamic mass organisations, will help police to ensure peaceful Christmas celebrations, said the Jakarta police spokesman.
The youth wing of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organisation in the world’s most populous Muslim country, is deploying 15,000 members nationwide to guard Churches and other venues used by Christians during Christmas.
“We do this every year. We live in a diverse nation and we respect differences,” the youth wing’s chairman, Syaifullah Yusuf, was quoted as saying on the group’s Web site.
Around 10 percent of Indonesia’s 220 million people are Christian. Muslims make up about 85 percent of the population and while the vast majority are moderates, there is an active militant minority.
Police have arrested hundreds of militants linked to JI since the 2002 Bali bombings in which more than 200 people were killed.
There has not been a major attack since three suicide bombers blew themselves up in Bali in October, 2005, killing at least 20 people. But police and some analysts say Indonesia still faces a considerable threat from Islamic militants.