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Christians and Muslims in Marawi unite during Ramadan as the Philippines recovers from Islamist violence

16 May 2018

Christians and Muslims in the battle-scarred city of Marawi, in the southern Philippines, started the Islamic month of fasting together this week, as part of a local tradition dating back almost 40 years.

Christian families have been encouraged to ‘accompany their Muslim neighbours in fasting, prayer and service to the poor’, and ‘to sacrifice one meal in any day of Ramadan and to donate the cost of the meal to the rehabilitation of Marawi communities’.

The tradition, known as ‘Duyog Ramadan’, or ‘One With Ramadan’, dates back to 1979, and is ‘an appreciation of the early memories’ of Muslim and Christian interaction in the city, local bishop Edwin de la Pena explained.

He said this year’s Ramadan would be an opportunity to promote peacebuilding involving Muslim and Christian youths in the troubled Mindanao region, to which Marawi belongs.

Forging unity

On 23 May last year, three days into Ramadan, the Philippine city of Marawi was overrun by the Maute group, an affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). It took only a few days for the city to be overrun, but several months for it to be liberated. During this time, 98 per cent of Marawi’s population were displaced. Those who couldn’t recite the Muslim prayers were executed.

“This year’s Ramadan is a celebration of victory against individuals and groups who intended to destroy the unity we’re forging between Christians and Muslims,” said Reynaldo Barnido, who leads a rehabilitation project in the city.

Rebuilding homes and lives

Your prayers and support enabled Open Doors to provide practical support for our brothers and sisters who were forced to flee their homes last year, and our workers still helping Christians in Marawi with livelihood projects, biblical training, reconstruction and housing assistance, and reconciliation projects.

Henry*, a carpenter from Marawi, was captured by extremists during the siege last year, but miraculously, he was able to escape. Watch this short video to hear his incredible story, and how your support is helping him to rebuild his life:

Thank you for enabling Open Doors workers to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in the Philippines for as long as they need us. One believer, Dayan, told us, “When the war broke, many helped us who were there for the first week, the second week, and then they were gone. But you stayed. You gave us rice, and we have something to eat. God truly never leaves his children, and I praise Him.”

Give to the work of Open Doors in south east Asia.

Although Marawi’s rebuilding has begun, an estimated 27,000 families still remain in evacuation centres and transition houses. Meanwhile the threat of more terrorist attacks in the country remains very real. Two weeks ago, two people were injured after a bomb went off outside a Catholic cathedral in the city of Koronadal, which is also in Mindanao and is only seven hours’ drive from Marawi. Our brothers and sisters in the Philippines continue to need our support and prayers.

Please pray:

  • For good relationships between Christians and Muslims in Marawi, and for reconciliation and trust to be rebuilt between the different communities
  • For comfort and provision for those who are still displaced and have lost their jobs and businesses because of the violence last year
  • That God would continue to work through Open Doors to support our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, and give Open Doors workers strength and wisdom.

Source: World Watch Monitor, Catholic news service UCAN

*name changed for security reasons

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