• Muslim scholars tapped to fight extremism


    DAVAO CITY: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has tapped Muslim scholars to help in the Philippine’s counter-terrorism efforts by keeping young Muslims away from extremist ideologies.

    About a hundred prominent Muslim scholars from across the country, mostly educated in the Middle East and Africa, gathered to throw their support behind the call of the custodian of two mosques in Saudi Arabia to end extremist ideologies wrongly attributed to the Islamic faith.

    “Terrorism is a criminal phenomenon and it has nothing to do with religions and the Muslims,” the scholars said in a joint statement submitted to the Office of the Religious Attaché of Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in Manila.

    They believe that “terrorism is the result of political and sectarian conflicts that stem from human values and moral responsibility and a result of misinterpretations of true teachings of Islam distorting the image of the religion leading to some leaning to retaliate with extreme force.”

    The scholars are composed of businessmen and clerics that are operating Madrasas (Islamic schools), mosques and religious organizations in the country.

    Among them are prominent members of the Agama Islam Society, the Markazus Shabab al-Muslim Fil-Filibbin, the Mercy Foundation, the Al-Maarif in Baguio and the Regional Darul Ifta of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao together with other religious groups and individuals.

    The group pledged to start confronting their members and followers in their respective homes, schools, mosques and other places to keep them away from extremism.

    The scholars also submitted 24 recommendations to the KSA, including the formation of a committee or council of scholars that would serve as a national umbrella for Muslim religious groups and institutions operating in the country that would also deal with fatwa [Islamic rulings] being issued locally and other Islamic issues.

    Saudi Arabia, through its religious attaché in the country, welcomed the inputs and thanked the scholars participating in its worldwide campaign to combat extremism and terrorism.

    “We are thankful to Allah that we are here united in realizing our aims,” Fares Al-Mutairi, Saudi Religious Attaché, said.

    Marawi City is still reeling from a five-month siege instigated by militants of the Maute Group, which had earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

    Al-Mutairi, meanwhile, responded to claims that it has not been keen on helping Marawi City residents rebuild their lives.

    He said Saudi Arabia is merely waiting for a “go-signal” from the government before it could deploy its resources to help rehabilitate the ravaged city.

    “Since the beginning [of the conflict in Marawi], the embassy and the government [Saudi Arabia] had submitted requests of support to the Philippine government regarding aid for Marawi but until now there are no responses for reasons that I do not know,” Al-Mutairi clarified.


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