Over 300,000 residents from the Islamic City of Marawi, the capital of Lanao del Sur, have been forced to flee their homes and sought safe refuge elsewhere while the war persists between the government troops and the ISIS-inspired Maute group.
Abdul Hamidullah Atar, a Marawi sultan, said this should not be the time to be divided by differences in religion, but an opportunity to foster understanding and be united as Filipinos. He also asked everyone to have sympathy for the Maranaos.
“That has been one of the biggest problems here. Whenever one of us wanted to rent a place or an apartment, most of us would be thrown out because we are Maranaos,” Atar said at the “Martial Law: Implications and Complications” forum in Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, here.
“It is very sad that we do not have a place to go home to now,” he added.
Many of the evacuees have traveled from their hometown to neighboring cities, such as Iligan and this city.
Besides displacement, Atar said that Maranaos have had to endure discrimination. But as a result of this conflict, the prejudices against them have worsened.
“People blame my people because of what happened. But no, this is an accumulation of so many problems in the society. This is not an isolated problem but a problem with a larger scope,” he explained.
Organized by the Xavier Ateneo Social Development cluster, the forum at the XU Little Theater was attended by members of the academic community, civil society organizations, representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, local government unit officials government agencies, and evaucees, among others. (xu comm)