Are these options really options? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:41



The Iraqi rebels who have taken over the city of Mosul are the same fighters who have declared the establishment of a caliphate over a territory carved out of sections of  Syria and Iraq. While the declared caliphate has not been universally  recognized in the Muslim world and there are no speculations that it will ever be, this  same group of Muslim extremists has  taken actions that   are causing great concerns  among other faith groups, particularly in that part of the world.

the latest move of this group has been to  give members of the Christianity community in Mosul the choice  of  the following three options:  convert to Islam, pay a tax, or leave the territory of the  Islamic State, the name given to the caliphate. The Christians had to make the option by Saturday July 19 or face death.

The news report in the Internet said “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”  The history of Christian communities in this area goes back to the very beginnings of Christianity. Among the oldest Christian groups are the Copts in Egypt and the Maronites in Lebanon. Let us not forget that the present conflict area  is the same  area of the lands mentioned in the bible in both the Old and the New Testaments.

Should we in the Philippines, particularly in  Mindanao, be concerned about how events are turning out in the IS? I am not a Cassandra and I am not saying that what has happened there will definitely happen in Mindanao but we will be very naïve if we do not bother to think about the probabilities.

to the point of being a cliché we read that the world has now become a “global village.”  It simply means that technology has brought countries and peoples closer to each other  and what happens in another part of the world is soon known  and,  sometimes,  is soon the reality in another part of the world thousands of miles away.

Islamic  extremism is a phenomenon  that is going on in certain parts of the world and it is a concern  even to Muslims  who  do not buy into that mindset. But who can say it is not making inroads into these moderate Muslim communities even as we ask the same question about how it is impacting on the Muslim communities in the Philippines.

Islam and Christianity have their different world views and we understand this. So long as we keep our respect for the right of people to practice their chosen religion there should be no difficulty.  In spite of the great efforts at crafting peace between Muslims and Christians in the Philippines we can genuinely say that our differences have not been anchored on religious issues. However,  how long will this remain so?   There are those who may want to exploit the situation for their own agenda. I understand that  even  now there are foreign individuals in Mindanao who are planting seeds of discord among us, between Christians and Muslims and even among the Muslim groups.

If we all go back to the tenets of our respective religions there we will find how we are to relate with people who  profess a religion different from our own.