Priest red-flags ‘religious extremism’ in PH

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ZAMBOANGA City, Oct. 5, 2014—With Abu Sayyaf’s recent frontpage comeback, a Filipino Jesuit based in Mindanao has raised concerns over religious extremism, emphasizing it has to be taken seriously now that it threatens to spread terror across the country.

Refugees who have fled from ISIS and arrived in Ankawa, in the northern part of Erbil, Iraq. (Photo: www.ankawa.com)

Talking to Agenzia Fides on Wednesday, Oct. 1, Jesuit Fr. Albert E. Alejo was quoted as saying:”The network of Islamic jihadism and its international implications should be kept under strict control in the southern Philippines.”

“It is true that Abu Sayyaf is a small group. But this adherence to international campaigns is dangerous and should be monitored. It is likely that there is no direct relationship of meetings with other international terrorist groups, it is a relationship mediated by the connections of the mass media and new technologies,” he added.

Alejo, who is Assistant to the President for Social Development at the Ateneo de Zamboanga, pointed out that “groups like Abu Sayyaf act by imitation and seem to have regained momentum”.

He explained, “This way of behaving with the mentality of a network gives rise to concerns. Small groups find fertile ground among young Muslims. This network of terror must be opposed with a network of solidarity and dialogue in civil society.”

“In the southern Philippines for example, Catholic schools and parishes must be united. One has to unite village chiefs. We urgently need a strategy of coordinated communication, to reactivate a circle of positive and constructive communication, because every conflict is the result of a wrong message,” said the priest.

According to him, it is essential to “correct the violent images and prejudices” in the southern Philippines, by “proposing good practices of dialogue and peace”.

Abu Sayyaf, a group of Filipino Islamist militants with links to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda, on Thursday, Oct. 2, announced the beheading on Oct. 17, Friday, of one of the two German nationals they have been keeping as hostages since April “unless their demands are met”.

Manila Bulletin reported the militants are demanding a Php 250 million ($5.6 million) ransom and that Germany to withdraw its support to United States-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria (ISIS). (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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