Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dialogue among Christians & Muslims (Silsilah Forum)

This afternoon, from 2 to 5 pm, members of the Davao chapter of the Silsilah dialogue movement gathered at the Redemptorist monastery. Several Muslim Imams and Ustadz, together with a Muslim youth leader attended. Two priests, a seminarian and a religious sister also joined, as well as member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. All those who attended have gone through the Silsilah Christian-Muslim Dialogue seminar in Zamboanga.

We started with an opening prayer - led by Imam Diong (for the Muslim side) and me (for the Christian side). The Bible and the Quran were prominently placed at the center. Then we shared our feelings and views about the recent developments in Mindanao, about the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), and the resurgence of violence following the stopping of the signing by the Supreme Court.

The Muslims in the Forum were horrified and saddened by the killings of innocent Christian civilians perpetrated by some MILF units under Commanders Bravo and Kato. They said that it was un-Islamic and must be condemned. This has contributed to the breakdown of the peace process. The Christians in the Forum also expressed their concerns about the ongoing military operations against some MILF units that has led to collateral damage among Muslim civilians. We lamented the emergence of the Ilagas - the Christian vigilantes, and the danger that it could turn the whole thing into a Christian-Muslim conflict.

We prayed and hope that the peace process will continue and the ceasefire be observed. We all agreed that any peace agreement should respect the rights of all the peoples in Mindanao - Muslims, Lumad and Christians. Since God is the creator of everything, the land and resources of Mindanao should be shared by all and not monopolized by one group. Any agreement on ancestral domain should take into consideration the claims of the Lumad or Indigenous peoples and the fact that there are already many Christians living in Mindanao. Thus, there should be extensive consultation and participation before any final agreement is reached.

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