Priest to Muslim leaders: Save peace process in ‘Ramadan spirit’

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ZAMBOANGA CITY, June 2, 2015—In view of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan for Muslims, the founder of the Silsilha Dialogue Movement (SDM) has called on leaders of Muslim communities to save the peace process in Mindanao.

In the face of heated deliberations on the creation of a Bangsamoro territory in Southern Philippines, Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, issued a message to Muslims, especially their religious leaders, to shun religious violence.

“We appeal to those in authority, especially Muslim religious leaders, to move with more determination against all forms of extremism emerging here and there in the name of ‘Islam.’ This is urgent to protect the identity of the Islamic religion and to save the peace process in Mindanao,” D’Ambra said.

Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra (Photo: Mona Pangan)

No peace built on fear

The Italian priest likewise reminded Muslim leaders that “building peace on fear cannot help the peace process,” adding that a culture of dialogue coupled with respect and love for all will help keep hope alive for peace in Mindanao.

“Muslims and Christians are called to emulate each other in goodness, if we wish to save the world. Peace in the world and in Mindanao cannot be built on money. Only love and respect with an honest and creative vision of goodness, guided by sincere leaders willing to serve all, will save us and build peace in our midst,” he said.

Citing the violence perpetuated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), D’Ambra said religious violence is still prevalent in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.

“In a time when people are killed because they belong to a specific religion or group, it is important to recall the value of life, reaffirm our common origin that gives us the same dignity as creatures of the same God. While nations claim to advocate for human rights we need to reflect on the new and alarming issues of violence in this time of history. This alarming situation is present in the Philippines and especially in Mindanao,” he pointed out.

Search for mercy

D’Ambra urged perpetrators of religious violence to change in the spirit of Ramadan and in view of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

“Christians are united with Muslims in search for God’s mercy. Thus, the Silsilah Dialogue Movement appeals to those who cause so much suffering in our midst to change life in the spirit of Ramadhan and in the spirit of the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” he said.

“We wish that the month of Ramadhan will really be a time of the ‘Great Jihad’ that brings about the ‘great struggle of purification’ of the hearts and minds, since any form of violence starts from the heart and the mind. This is the spiritual journey that Islam proposes and reaffirms, especially during the month Ramadhan and which Christians appreciate and respect,” he added.

The end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, on July 18 is considered a national holiday. (CBCP News)

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