Muslim leaders deplore profiling of Muslim youths in Manila

College and senior high school students and teachers from various schools in Zamboanga City attend a seminar on preventing and countering violent extremism at the Zamboanga City State College of Marine Sciences and Technology on Monday, 11 February 2019. MindaNews photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 21 February) – Muslim leaders in Mindanao on Friday expressed outrage on the profiling of Muslim students by the Manila Police District (MPD) “in line with the efforts to counter violent extremism,” stressing the move reeks of Islamophobia and discrimination.

Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister for the Interior and Local Government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), castigated the profiling as “wrong.”

“Instead of aiding our effort against violent extremism, it pushes people towards it as it discriminates, profiles and reinforces prejudices against a specific religion,” said Sinarimbo, also the BARMM spokesperson.

Amir Mawallil, a member of BARMM’s Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA), slammed the profiling “as a blatant discrimination of the rights of the Muslim minority.”

“This is why it is hard to be a Muslim in this country. It’s always like this, the Muslim experience is framed in a cruel, endless cycle,” he stressed.

Mawallil said the discrimination against Muslims “is rampant, constant and endless,” which “is very tiring.”

Mawallil, along with Anna Tarhata Basman, Lanang Ali, Jr., and Marjanie Macasalong filed on Friday a resolution condemning the discriminatory profiling of Muslim students in Metro Manila by the District Community Affairs and Development Division of the Manila Police District.

The BTA, which governs the BARMM until the election of regular officials in 2022, adopted the resolution.

“This move by the Manila Police District puts the young Muslims at worst possible risk—of unjust treatment and isolation, deprivation of opportunities nd physical harm,” the resolution obtained by MindaNews said.

The BTA, a body of multi-cultural representation, denounces religious and all other forms of discrimination, which it deems disgraceful and unbefitting of any agency of government or personnel, it added.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers made public Thursday the MPD memorandum ordering its station commanders to “submit the updated list of Muslim students in high school, colleges and universities in your respective areas of responsibility following the attached format.”

The data would be used by the Salaam Police Center as reference in the series of activities in Metro Manila as part of the strengthening of peacebuilding and countering violent extremism,” the memorandum stated.

Salaam is a salutation meaning peace.

Zia Alonto Adiong, another BTA member, said the “dangerous association made between violent extremism and Islam is not new, and is rooted on years of discrimination against Muslims in the Philippines.”

“This kind of profiling oppresses and ostracizes our Muslim youth, and creates a rift between the Muslim community and a police force that is duty-bound to also protect us as Filipinos,” he said.

Adiong urged the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos to take action against “this discriminatory order issued by the MPD,” and to initiate dialogue and a review of policies that practice discrimination against Muslims.

He also called on the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to issue a memorandum that prohibits the release of private and personal data to the Philippine National Police (PNP), in connection to a previous memorandum regarding “sensitive, personal information” issued last year.

Adiong asked the PNP “to take corrective measures following the release of their anti-Muslim memorandum, to stop perpetuating dangerous stereotypes that put the Muslim community at risk, and to condemn similar discriminatory actions within and among their ranks in the future.”

Brother Rey Barnido, executive director of Duyog Marawi, urged the police to retract the memo, which he stressed “reeks with Islamophobia.”

Duyog Marawi was established by the Prelature of Marawi as a response of the local Catholic Church to help the victims of the May 2017 Marawi siege. The group counts Christians and Muslims as volunteers.

The profiling of Muslim students is a dangerous idea, according to Barnido.

“(Instead of profiling the Muslim students, they should) engage all students whatever their religion is in peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism (PVE),” Barnido said.

He also suggested the conduct of peacebuilding and PVE outside the classrooms and into the heart of poor communities, “as poverty is the breeding ground of violent extremism.”

Abdul Hamidullah Atar, the Sultan of Marawi, was disgusted with the profiling of Muslim students in Manila.

He called on the security sectors to respect citizens regardless of faith, creed or political affiliation.

Atar noted that “real Muslims are peace loving people.”

He warned that the profiling of Muslim youths in Manila could further breed hatred against the government.

“Often, violence happens when structural violence exists, including discrimination,” the sultan said. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)