Tausug leaders on Sunday appealed for the release of two Muslim filmmakers who are being held captive by an armed group in Jolo, Sulu.
The said Muslim community leaders made the plea amid preparations for the observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
The appeals were made separately by Ustadhz Abdulbaqi Abubakar, grand mufti of Region 9 and a senior leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); Jamalul Kiram 3rd and Muedzul-Lail Tan-Kiram, heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo; and Jadjurie Arasa, administrator of the Blue Mosque in Maharalika Village, Taguig City.
They coursed their plea through journalist Edd Usman, uncle of sisters Nadjoua and Linda Bansil, who have been held captive since June 22.
Abubakar, for one, said that the Bansil sisters should not have been put in such situation.
“I knew their father, Abdulbasit Bansil, as a poor man like many Moro people like us because he was my school mate at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt,” said Abubakar.
He said that the Bansil sisters should be freed as the Muslim world commemorates the holy month of Ramadan.
“I am appealing to anyone, or any group holding them to free them unharmed immediately as the holy month of Ramadan is about to start,” said Abubakar.
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NMCF) will convene its Moon-sighting Committee on July 8 to look for the new crescent moon that signals the advent of Ramadan.
If the crescent is sighted, the NCMF said, the first day of fasting will be set on July 9; if not sighted, then Ramadan would start on July 10.
It is in this spirit of Islam’s message of peace and unity, particularly during the annual season of sacrifice and God-centeredness, that leaders of Sulu voiced their appeals for the helpless Bansil sisters’ freedom.
Several armed men seized Nadjoua and Linda from a jeepney while returning to Jolo town on June 22.
Before going to Sulu, Nadjoua said that she had spoken to some Tausug leaders who assured them their safety and access to coffee farmers in the area.