Sanchez: Cultural sensitivity

SULTAN Maguid Maruhom is a Muslim human rights colleague. We were together one time in Manila for an Amnesty International Philippines meeting.

We have been Facebook friends for years. We click “Like” on each other’s post when the topic is on interfaith dialogs especially between Muslims and Christians.

If anything, Maguid (he disdains being called “Sultan”) is a vocal critic of terrorism, even if the terrorists do it in the name of Allah.

In a Facebook post, he wrote “I believe the bigger truths shared by all religions is peace and compassion and this is true to Islam. Nonetheless, I want to challenge anyone who can prove there is a single verse in the Qur’an that promotes terrorism. If you can prove to me, I will immediately leave my religion. And plus bonus: I will reward you with 100k from my hard earned savings. Come any time you want.”

Another friend could say “Amen” to that. Nope, he’s not a Muslim but a Catholic Christian. One time, we were together to celebrate Sunday Mass with our families at the San Sebastian Cathedral when he was still the commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of Negros Occidental.

Now the 3rd Infantry Division commander, Major General Jon Aying noted that the word “Muslim” is often attached to crime suspects. “This is a form of social discrimination by using hasty generalization affecting the beliefs, emotions, behavior, opinion, and attitude about our Muslim brothers.”

Jon called on the public, especially the media, to be responsible and sensitive enough to know and understand, what they publish, in order not to build a social divide and misunderstanding, among Filipinos. Said he, “We should all learn how to understand, respect, tolerate, co-exist and live interdependently as a nation and as a people.”

Jon emphasized that the Army, various law enforcement agencies, national government, non-government organizations, government agencies, different faith communities, other sectoral organizations, including the media and the community, should work together to build a nation within the premise of peace and development, and not by social discrimination and insensitivity.

He echoes Pope Francis who during his Egyptian visit called on Christian and Muslim religious leaders to join in building “a new civilization of peace” by declaring together “a firm and clear ‘no’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion and in the name of God” and to “affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred.”

Drawing a warm applause, the Pope added, “what is needed are peacemakers, not fomenters of conflict; firefighters not arsonists; preachers of reconciliation and not instigators of destruction.”

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)
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