THERE have been numerous incidents on discrimination towards the Muslim community. These have been happening for as long as I can remember, and it’s not just in the Philippines.
It could be because of how their religious teachings are being interpreted by some. While there are those who propagate and advocate peace, some just don’t. That depends on how the devotee views and teaches it.
Those behind the Maute Group are those who fall under the category of “evil” — an extremist group that professes to preach “true” Islam. But it is really nothing but a terrorist organization composed of fanatics inspired by the twisted Isis ideology. And so, they caused havoc in Marawi city without an acceptable reason. Their “mission”: take back something that was “stolen” and establish a caliphate.
The good thing is, we have in our midst those who practice and preach peace among their followers. Because they are for peace, they are accepted. Yet society could be unfair at times and that is why they get the feeling that they are being viewed differently. It’s the stigma caused by extremists; they are, in fact, victims of the shenanigans of the misguided and terrorists who have been causing trouble all these years. The result: misconceptions and stereotyping. People tend to distance themselves from them because of their religion which is unnecessarily confronted with a huge public relations problem of global proportions as a result of the acts of the Al Qaeda, Isis, Abu Sayyaf, Maute Group, etc..
Is it right to stereotype Muslims just because of their affiliation? I think not. There is “evil” everywhere we look. During the medieval times, Christendom was responsible for many horrible things. Our country’s history is replete with ugly stories about how Christianity was rammed down the throat of our ancestors.
And now the Marawi crisis which focused the spotlight on extremism and terrorism. Last week, a Muslim friend of mine, said a family of evacuees from Marawi city were looking for a place to rent. The Muslim family found one but only after several rejections. I cannot say what the reason why they were repeatedly rejected. It could be a result of stereotyping. But understand, too, that these days, people are extra cautious and want a sense of security and safety.
Tensions are definitely high, and the situation is complicated and delicate. I can only hope for understanding during these troubled times.