ADVOCACY MindaNOW: Avoid backlash vs Muslims

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 January) — I was glued to TV’s CNN over the past few days, a far cry from my usual. I have to admit this: I  sparingly watch TV these days. Why? It’s just to be free from the negativities of the day. No, it’s not about TV per se. It’s because of the content of broadcasts, reflecting life’s foibles and woes — which is what journalism is really all about. Indeed, there are facts that are happening all around us but which  I refuse to agonize over.  I prefer to choose what I want to relish: the pleasant (and there are so many out there I tell you ). I refuse be at the mercy of these sad and woeful  events that are plentiful.  

But not over the last few days. I followed closely CNN’s running coverage of the developing episode in Paris, France that started with the massacre by alleged  Al Qaeda terrorists of the editor, reporters and columnists of a news weekly  magazine “CHARLIE HEBDO,” which is known for its satire, including against Islam’s  Prophet Muhammad.  The terrorists, barged into the editorial offices and massacred 12 news-workers, escaped to the suburbs  but were cornered and eventually, after three days of a stand-off  were all killed, except for one woman suspect who is still subject of a massive manhunt.

What really strikes me is the fact that out there, they get the bastards. Terrorists are eventually cornered and get to pay for their crimes. Whatever the crime or act committed, the criminals MUST be made to  pay for their crimes. In some cases, the recompense is swift and quick just like this Paris incident. Other cases may take some time. But nonetheless, the crime is solved.

I hate to make a comparison but I have no choice. We can’t escape this reality that here,  in our own small corner of the world, this does NOT  happen. Here, our criminals are not made to pay.  Worse, they merrily prepare for their next crimes. I get angry just thinking about this.

When improvised bombs are exploded or when someone is “salvaged“, the authorities usually come out swinging with bold angry , challenging words, only to eventually just whimper. This is not to totally blame our law enforcers for this. For one, we are still “primitive” in our crime solving methods and equipment. Two, our own citizens refuse to help. And we can’t blame them too because they cannot be protected from any backlash. Three, our feeling of revulsion has been lost, if not numbed, due to the combination of the three above and the recurrence of violent incidents that have become commonplace.

Well, maybe there is no basis for comparison between a crime committed in Paris and one committed here. It’s like comparing apples with “singkamas.” But seeing what happened in  far-away France, we are compelled to  face the reality that we  here are a long, long way off. Am I sad?  Nah, not sad but a-n-g-r-y!  As in!


BACKLASH. The more worrisome, if you ask me, is the serious backlash the Paris incident may have on Islam as a religion and Muslims as a people. There is no doubt that the attack on CHARLIE HEBDO was provoked by the blasphemous portrayal of Prophet Muhammad by the satirical news magazine. The suspects were quoted as shouting that this was to avenge Prophet Muhammad. This is problematic obviously because those who will condemn the massacre will have the tendency to equate the terrorism to Islam and attribute this to Muslims as a whole.  Of course, we know Islam and mainstream Muslims  do not countenance this. But there are initial signs that the unwanted backlash is starting to happen. This must be addressed immediately: “Muslims must join in, if not dominate the chorus of condemnation.” And it will not help any if some  Muslims will also justify the attack. So let’s all be sensitive to this and all help.


“JORGE BERGOGLIO.” I watched the Sunday episode of ABS CBN that featured the life of once priest, then bishop and cardinal Jorge Bergoglio  and now, Pope Francis. His life is truly astounding! His love for the poor will explain His papacy. How he grappled with “liberation theology” that saw how his other Jesuit priests in Argentina worked for –and with — the poor victims of martial law was another defining moment of his life. To some, he did not do enough to counter Martial Law. But unknown to many, he maintained a respectable relationship with the repressive regime to protect his priests. He allowed the use of his identity to smuggle  a priest out  of the country to escape the regime. His ways are unconventional. He is compassionate, he listens, he consults, but beware: if he decides on something, he insists and sticks to it; he is frugal and  strict. See how he proceeds in reforming the reclusive,  allegedly problematic Curia in the Vatican.

His coming visit will be full of visuals and messages that will reflect his persona and the present-day Catholic Church under His papacy.


SMARTMATIC, AGAIN? Wow, they have not cleared up what happened with the “bolilyaso” of Smartmatic in the last elections and now, another magic made by Comelec to hire it again for 2016 WITHOUT BIDDING!  What I cannot understand is that even a former Comelec insider is casting grave doubts about its reliability and credibility.  And now this!

A warning: If they plan on pulling something large-scale and unbelievable on the Filipino people in the 2016 elections, they are courting an upheaval! Mark my word!  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jesus “Jess” Dureza served in various capacities under the nine-year Arroyo administration, including the posts of government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF from 2001 to 2003 and as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process).