FOR thousands of Marawi residents who fled their residences due to the fighting between extremists and government forces, this year’s Eid’l Fitr is the saddest one in years and lacked the joyous spirit associated with one of the most important Muslim religious celebrations.
Taking their cue from their fellow Muslims in other countries, Islam believers throughout the Philippines marked Eid’l Fitr or the end of the month-long Ramadan on Sunday, June 25.
“This is the saddest Eid’l Celebration in recent memory,” said Assembly Zia Alonto Adiong, a member of the legislative body of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee, in a statement.
Adiong said the presence of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group, whose members are currently engaged in a series of firefights with the military in Marawi, has deprived the city’s Muslim devotees to properly celebrate Eid’l Fitr.
“This local militant group robbed us the chance to observe Ramadhan peacefully and stole from us the opportunity to celebrate Eid’l Fitr and be with our loved ones in this religious occasion. For centuries, this Islamic tradition has been observed uninterrupted until now,” he said.
Adtiong added, “it pains us to see families who can’t even share meals together, pray together and continue observing our current state doesn’t permit such ‘family gathering’ to take place.”
Most of the 264,000 residents in Marawi are staying in various evacuation centers and in their relatives’ homes in the provinces of Lanao, Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the military took an eight-hour “humanitarian pause” in its offensive against the Maute Group as a show of respect to the observance of the Eid’l Fitr on Sunday.
The temporary cessation of hostilities began at 6 p.m. and ended at 2 p.m. It was approved by General Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez Jr., head of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom).
“We declare a lull in our current operations in the city on that day as a manifestation of our high respect to the Islamic faith,” the military said in a statement.
The humanitarian pause, Año said, is “a testimony to the AFP’s solid commitment to provide our brother Muslims especially in the City of Marawi an opportunity to observe this festive event marking the end of the month-long period of Ramadan.”
The military, however, has clarified that the AFP’s offensive operations “will only cover a halt in the employment of its capabilities during the inclusive period.”