Economic hardships fuel violent extremism – report

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 18 January) – Unemployment and other economic difficulties are pushing Moro youth into joining extremist groups, a consolidated report based on visioning workshop sessions attended by various groups and sectors in the Bangsamoro said.

Visioning workshop for Sulu and Tawi-tawi delegates held in Zamboanga City on 5 November 2018. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

The workshops, facilitated by the UNDP-backed Insider Mediators, aimed to come up with a unified vision for the emerging political entity that will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao once the Bangsamoro Law is ratified in a plebiscite slated on January 21 and February 6.

The visioning workshops were held in November last year. The participants came from areas covered by the Bangsamoro and those outside the region with sizeable Moro populations.

“Even graduates who are unemployed would join extremist groups. Many MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) combatants who were not integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police joined the extremists, too,” the report said.

The 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the Philippine government and MNLF provides for the integration of a certain number of former Moro rebels into the AFP and PNP.

The report said educating the youth will help prevent violent extremism.

“Education and employment are intertwined, as quality education is needed for employment,” it said.

In one of the workshop sessions, participants blamed a “misguided interpretation of Islam” as one factor contributing to the spread of violent extremism.

To address this, a group suggested that madaris must follow a unified curriculum on a single school of thought of Islam.

Another group of participants, however, pointed out that in other countries Muslims are following certain ethics on disagreement about how Islam should be interpreted.

“The processing of primary sources [about Islam] is problematic. Differences [in interpretation] will always be there, and it is positive. Diversity, not unity of knowledge about Islam, will help us,” they said. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)