Young Christians join Muslims in Cotabato City for Iftar

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 18 May) — The Christians made their sign of the cross, the Muslims raised their hands in prayer during the Iftar (breaking of the fast) on Thursday, in the season of the Ramadan, at the Tanghalang Michael Clark in the Notre Dame University here.

The Iftar marked the end of the day-long caravan of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) which aims to raise awareness among Filipino Youth on the importance of community service and civic engagement.

IFTAR. A young Christian makes the sign of the cross as he joins young Muslims during Iftar (breaking of fast) in the season of Ramadan. The Iftar, held at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, marked the end of a day-long caravan of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative on Thursday, June 17. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews) IFTAR. A young Christian makes the sign of the cross as he joins young Muslims during Iftar (breaking of fast) in the season of Ramadan. The Iftar, held at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, marked the end of a day-long caravan of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative on Thursday, June 17. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)

“The message really is to gather the Christians and Muslims on an interfaith Iftar and the purpose is to engage both religions and let them feel the meaning of fasting with Muslim youth during the holy month,” said Abdul Alongan who finished a year-long exchange study in the United States under the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program.

“We are showing our support here, though we do not belong to the same religion but we all want the same thing and vision that is why at all cost we are united to work together and make a better world,” said Zuein Guantero, a Christian YES fellow who travelled several hours from Mindanao’s northern city of Cagayan.

Guantero cited biases and prejudices that have led to a stereotyped view of Muslims in Mindanao and how he hopes the youth could help address these problems.

“For me as a youth and person living here, we want to focus on rebranding from the stereotyping, I am willing to work for change for a better place and make positive change,” he said.

Ryan Bradeen of the Cultural Affairs department of the United States embassy in Manila who shepherded the group of YSEALI said the idea is to bring the youth community understand Ramadan and the Islamic faith.

“(This is) to witness Ramadan tradition that emphasizes equality, entertainment, compassion, sharing and service the community,” he said.

The core value of the youth exchange program, he said, is to urge the younger generation to act as responsible global citizens working for peace and understanding in a diverse world. The program also seeks to affirm faith in the dignity and worth of every human being of all nations and cultures without distinction as to race, sex, language, religion and social status.

It is also an intercultural learning opportunities for growing number of young people, families and inclusive community of global citizens determined to build bridges between cultures where there is a strong support from US President Barack Obama. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)