‘The Moro Times’ launched Friday

“Since we fear what we do not know, The Moro Times will fill the void of ignorance,” she said.

Rasul noted that published information about Muslims in the Philippines is “sporadic and emanates from a very political prism. News reports are usually about terrorism, corruption, electoral shenanigans.”

Rasul said the newspaper provides “a door for all readers to enter the exotic world of the Muslims of the Philippines.”

“Find out about business opportunities in Muslim Mindanao and tie up with credible local businessmen. Ever wondered what halal food is? Read about how Maranaos celebrate weddings. Want to buy hand-woven textiles of the Tausug and Yakan and the best-priced pearls? Learn about Islamic art. Did you know that there is a spiritual site in TawiTawi that natives believe is protected by white monkeys?  This ‘virtual’ door will allow the reader to take a peek—from the safe corner of your room—into our world. This door, unlocked, allows us to welcome you in. Do keep the door open,” Rasul wrote in her Manila Times’ column, ‘Durian.’

The paper will be launched Friday during a forum at the University of the Philippines.

Samira Ali Gutoc, who writes “My, My, My Marawi” for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews, is the coordinator of the team of writers, including Nasser Sharief whom Rasul describes as “resident okir artist/layout guy/fiction writer,” Maya Abdullah, “who jst graduated from UP Journ,” and Abdurrahman Ismail (Balik Islam).   Contributors include Dean Hamid Barra of the King Faisal Center for Islam, Arabic and Asian Studies at the Mindanao State University and Jalil Olermo of the Muslim Business Forum.

Gutoc wrote that The Moro Times “is an effort to counter an elite media – to say minorities should not feel minoritized, to write news that matters, to celebrate what’s best and in the process create better harmonious communities through information exchange.”

“There is a need to mainstream images of ordinary Muslims. Moderate voices also need space. Much significant activity of peace-building, development assistance and the like are happening on the ground. In fact, UNESCO recognizes the need for mass media to build commonalities and unity among Muslims and  Christians. The time to open the democratic space to minorities has come,” she said.

”It’s work that should have come a long time ago, and maybe we would have avoided the wars that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. As one speaker at the 17th World Congress of the International Catholic Union of the Press  cites, ‘The greatest change for us journalists is our possibility to go beyond all frontiers, physical and moral, and to eliminate fear and hatred among humans,’” she wrote. (MindaNews)