A forum on religious extremism was held earlier this week at the CICM (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae) Retreat House in Talisay City, where peace worker Milet Mendoza, a former Abu Sayyaf hostage, recounted her experience in captivity and the work she has done since regaining her freedom.
“After my kidnapping, I would still look at myself as a peace maker,” she said. “It is important that the role of independent civilians would be to facilitate dialogue between military people and communities.”
Mendoza has since gone on to do development work in Mindanao, which she says has helped in her understanding of the Islamic extremist psyche.
Former Islamic extremist and mufti, or an expert in Islamic law, Ustadz Najeeb Razul also spoke, discussed his personal transformation from extremism and how he understands Islam.
“You cannot execute a person simply because of his religion,” he stated. “Islam teaches no compulsion in religion and I started vehemently condemning them and what they have been doing.”
National Ulama Conference of the Philippines regional secretary-general, Professor Alih Aiyub, also addressed those gathered, saying, “It is wrong to use Islam to justify terrorist activities.”
The event was organized by the Alter Trade Foundation, Inc. and the Paghiliusa sa Paghida-et Negros, in partnership with the Office of the Commanding General of the Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Task Force Buglas, a group formed to prevent any spillover of violence from Mindanao and prevent terror activities in Negros Occidental.
An estimated 200 individuals attended the forum, representing various sectors including the military, religious, academe, among others./WDJ