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Rody defends visit to Marawi Grand Mosque

MANILA, Philippines — There was no intent to dishonor Islam when President Duterte, along with top defense and military officials, stepped inside the Grand Mosque in Marawi City last Monday.

“I respect Islam … it was not meant to disrespect or dishonor,” Duterte told reporters Tuesday night during his visit at the wake of two military officers killed in the clash in Marawi City.

Duterte stressed the visit to the Grand Mosque was meant to show that government forces are in full control of the situation in Marawi.

The Grand Mosque used to be the command and control center of the Maute terrorists until it was recaptured by government troops last month.

There were criticisms that Duterte and the officials disrespected Islam when they failed to remove their shoes upon entering the mosque.

Duterte said it would be impractical to remove his shoes because of the debris and broken glass scattered all over the place.

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“I might step on something. Considering my age, wounds would not heal faster,” he said.

Duterte said he was also advised by his military commanders to go inside the mosque for safety reasons since fighting continued nearby.

“Do not draw unpleasant inferences because nobody wants to dishonor a religion, me especially. My forebears are from this place,” he said.

Duterte, however, did not comment on the criticisms raised against Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for not wearing a hijab when she joined the Chief Executive and security forces during the Marawi visit.

Duterte visited the troops in Marawi last Monday to boost the morale and check on the situation of soldiers involved in combat operations against Maute terrorists.  

Duterte egged on the troops to stay alive and promised them perks and a trip to Hong Kong after the siege in Marawi is over.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año hailed the troops for their unrelenting campaign against religious extremists while protecting the gains of the Mindanao peace process.– With Michael Punongbayan, John Unson, Jaime Laude

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