COTABATO CITY: The Ulama Summit Against Terrorism opened here on Friday, despite efforts of a radical terror group to prevent religious leaders from attending the event.
Jointly spearheaded by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Ulamas (Islamic scholars) in the region, the summit emphasized that Islam must not and cannot be used to justify violent extremism and terrorism.
The Ulamas also underscored that reeducation is necessary to rediscover Islam, specifically its underlying principles of justice, compassion, and peace.
A radical group which calls itself “Dawla Islamiya” prior to the start of the summit, has warned Ulamas against attending the event.
“To those who have Ulama relatives, warn your parents, brothers and children not to attend the said summit because if something happens to them along the way or in the end, don’t tell us you were not warned,” the statement said.
Dawla Islamiya is roughly translates as Islamic state.
The group claimed that ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman has been using the Ulamas for his personal agenda and the summit would result to Ulamas branding members of the radical group as terrorists.
Hataman noted that terrorism and security-related problems in the region have been hampering economic growth and the support of religious leaders are pivotal to community-based initiatives towards sustainable development and against terrorism in the region.
While the economies of neighboring areas posted 4 percent to 6 percent growth last year, ARMM could only post less than 1 percent growth, Hataman added.
This is because security threats pose limits in the region’s economic expansion, he noted.
Meanwhile, security was tight around the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, the venue of the summit where clerics are to pledge support to Malacañang’s anti-terrorism campaign.
The three-day event that was launched Friday, was also organized in cooperation with the Regional Darul Iftah, also known as House of Opinions.
Two platoons of soldiers backed by Simba armored vehicles and more than 50 policemen have been deployed in the surroundings of the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex, located inside the 32-hectare ARMM compound here.