Monday, November 17, 2008

Islamic Rebels in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines: An influential bloc of Islamic nations called on the Philippine government and Muslim rebels Thursday to end clashes it said put half a million civilians at risk and aided extremists who seek to destroy the fragile peace process.

The government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front should resume peace talks and end the clashes that erupted in August after the Philippine Supreme Court scrapped a preliminary peace deal, said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

In an appeal on the bloc's Web site, he said the fighting in the troubled southern island of Mindanao "empowers undisciplined elements who seek to abort the peace process and fuel extremist feelings."

More than 100 civilians have been killed and about half a million driven from their homes since three rebel commanders went on a bloody rampage in several Christian communities in August, prompting an offensive by government troops.

The rebels blamed the government for jeopardizing 11 years of tough negotiations when the Supreme Court stopped the signing of an accord granting minority Muslims an expanded homeland. The court declared the agreement unconstitutional and said it could lead to the partition of the Philippines.

Read it all here.

The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic. Of its 90 million people, Muslims comprise about 5 percent.

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