Imams, Catholic bishops condemn deadly Sunday mass bombing

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Imams, Catholic bishops condemn deadly Sunday mass bombing
Lanao Del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. looks on as law enforcement officers investigate the scene of an explosion that occurred during a Catholic Mass in a gymnasium at Mindanao State University in Marawi, Philippines, December 3, 2023.
Lanao Del Sur Provincial Government / Handout

MANILA, Philippines — Both Muslim and Catholic religious leaders have denounced the deadly explosion that took place during Sunday mass in a university gymnasium in Marawi City.  

In separate statements, the United Imams of the Philippines and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) decried the act of violence that the police estimate has claimed at least four lives and left dozens more injured.

The Muslim religious leaders called the bombing attack at Mindanao State University (MSU) a violation of “all human and Islamic norms” and cited verses in the Quran that forbid “all forms of attacks on innocents.”

“In Islam, the only wars that are permitted are between armies and they should engage on battlefields and engage nobly. The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Do not kill women or children or non-combatants and do not kill old people or religious people,’ and he mentioned priests, nuns and rabbis,” the United Imams of the Philippines said.

The Filipino imams added that violence against innocent civilians “constitutes a form of injustice that cannot be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts.”

“Any attack on innocent people is unlawful and contrary to shari'a (Islamic law). Muslims must safeguard the lives, honor and property of civilians and non-combatants. Attacking them contradicts shari'a,” the United Imams of the Philippines added.

Similarly, the CBCP expressed grief over the deadly attack that targeted the Catholic faithful, pointing out that those behind the act had chosen to do so on the first Sunday of Advent (December 3).

“Surely, the killers who precipitated such a horrendous act of violence have their loved ones too. What would it take to get them to see in the families of their victims their own families?” CBCP President Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said.

“Such violence should not only be denounced; it should also be renounced as a way of seeking redress by every peace-loving Filipino,” he added.

David also cited the statement of MSU decrying the attack, which it described as “an assault on our core values and our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive community for all.” 

“We could not agree more. With them, we reaffirm our unrelenting commitment to peace and our repudiation of violence," he said.

‘Foreign terrorists’

Islamic State or ISIS has claimed responsibility for the deadly explosion in Marawi. Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said that the incident was perpetrated by “foreign terrorists.”

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said that the bombing incident could be a “retaliatory attack” following the military’s series of “successful operations” against members of the “terrorist group Daulah Islamiya (DI).”

Hate speech

The Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia — an organization that tracks rebellion-related and community-level conflict in Mindanao — has warned the public against jumping to conclusions about those responsible for the attack amid "attempts to polarize the situation and sow the seeds of a Muslim-Christian conflict."

The group said that it has already observed “an alarming rise in calls for revenge and hate speech on the ground and social media” over the bombing incident.

“Let us be vigilant but not vigilantes,” the Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia added.

— with reports by Agence France-Presse and Gaea Katreena Cabico

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