Muslim lawmaker calls for a stop on discriminating Muslims


A Muslim lawmaker has called for a halt on discriminating Muslims on the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day.

Rep. Sitti Hataman of Anak Mindanao party-list made the pitch by pushing for her House Bill 659 which bans discrimination based on ethnicity or religion.

Hataman noted that Muslims remain at the receiving end of discrimination even if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Likewise, the UDHR provides that human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

“Sadly, these words are empty for the people who still suffer discrimination, especially those who belong in ethnic groups or those whose beliefs are not the same with the majority. Those who are Muslims, or even those with Muslim-sounding names are discriminated when it comes to job hiring, and that is a concrete example of trampling on their human rights,” Hataman said in a statement.

She then cited that based on the Philippine Human Development Report in 2005, 55 percent believe that Muslims easily get agitated compared with others, while 47 percent believe that Muslims are terrorists. Further, 33 to 39 percent of Filipinos do not regard Muslims highly.

“These are just some of the reasons why this bill should be passed,” Hataman, the wife of Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, added.

Likewise, Hataman also cited the need to pass a legislation establishing peace zones and mechanism to protect civilians and their livelihood during armed conflict.

Such move, she noted, is in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Right to Peace approved by the United Nations General Assembly back in November 1984.

“Rights of innocent civilians, women and children are violated when there is war. There can only be justice if there is peace,” Hataman added in closing. LLANESCA T. PANTI


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