Upon searching and finding nothing on CNN or BBC News I emailed CNN and told them what I knew about the bombing. I felt myself tearing up as I was learning more about this bomb and it made me realize how very connected to the Philippines I feel.
At first I felt that drop in the heart much like I feel whenever I see images of the Two Towers billowing smoke in New York. Immediately after I began to feel anger.
I didn't feel this type of anger after 9/11 because there was enough anger all over the TV screens from pundits, from everybody. Actually I felt curiosity then. That was what led to me reaching out to the Muslim community in Cedar Rapids to ask questions directly about Islam since there was not much reliable information on the airwaves. I learned a lot from this year long cultural immersion within the Muslim Community at Cedar Rapids. I became really fond of Islam and it's followers. However the most difficult part for me to understand was modern day Islam's pacifist approach to Fundamental Islamic ideology and terrorism.
Islam was able to answer many questions that the Bible was not able to answer. It had rules to follow and it had reasons to follow them. It had order and structure. However when it came to 'brothers' and 'sisters' committing acts of terrorism against civilians in various countries throughout the world. There was barely a peep. In fact, more often than not I'd hear a 'tit -for-tat' acceptance or justification of what was happening. I'm pretty sure if the coin were flipped and an extremist Christian group was doing acts of terrorism against civilians that a majority of Christians would say, NOT IN THE NAME OF MY RELIGION! Of course not all would say that as fundamentalists usually have some amount of followers depending on how grassroots it is or not.
If this country hadn't of done this or wasn't doing this then these people wouldn't do this. Now, sometimes it seemed to make sense. There were some heavy handed tactics being used against some countries and Islamic communities however they would come back with such ferocity and disregard for INNOCENT civilian lives..in fact sometimes specifically targeting civilians. Those 'tit-for-tat' arguments just couldn't really cut it for justifying the carnage brought onto everyday people that could by your mother, brother, or daughter.
A question began to form in my mind. Why are good, faithful Muslims allowing their religion to be hijacked by religious zealots bent on implementing THEIR OWN ideals on how the world and Islam should be followed? It just didn't make since that even the scholars and elders that have the power to make legal fatwas (religious edicts) against such brazen acts of terror didn't do just that. Instead they would remain quiet.
Back to the bombing that happened today.
The attack was more than likely conducted by either Abu Sayyaf, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front which is a break off militant wing of Muslims based in the Sulu Islands off of the Southern Coast of Mindanao), or the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah. Of course we can't know until evidence comes out or one of the groups claims responsibility. Some (myself included) believe that these groups are attacking in order to keep the fight going and remind Manila that they are not to be forgotten in their fight for complete succession from the Philippines. Yes, Abu Sayyaf and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) want to have their own country, their own Umma..or purely Islamic Community. Another example of an Umma is Afghanistan. Doesn't that sound encouraging?
Knowing this information and also listening to a justification for today's senseless attack on civilians made my blood boil. I was seeing red and my only thought was..Go Get them and Finish this. A bit rough handed no? I'll blame this sudden jump to conclusion and action on my 2 days without being able to sleep. I quickly realized I needed to just breath and step back so I could think about the situation with a clear mind.
I know some people who live and work with the indigenous communities of Mindanao and have intimate knowledge of the happenings that go on behind closed doors. They mentioned something that you don't hear much, or at all, in the news when I was fuming about the attacks. You hear about terrorists(MILF, Abu Sayyaf) and Secessionists(MNLF) and that's it. A part of that reason is because of course the Philippines is the most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist, especially on hot topic or controversial issues. That is a topic for another blog though.
The interesting bits of information and 'tit-for-tat' justification that I received from them was that many indigenous people are being assaulted, raped(still waiting for the sources on this one), and their homes threatened by joint military actions between the US and Philippines Armed Forces. This happens despite there being a cease-fire (page 10,11) and peace agreement between MNLF and the Philippines Government that was signed in 1996.
Not only that, but the US is drilling oil off of Sulu and mining minerals. So the indigenous people and leaders of the Autonomous Region do have reasons to be upset. They have reasons to be MORE than upset actually. However I hope they can find a better way of addressing their grievances.
So my reason for this blog is:
- To look at both sides of an issue before jumping to conclusions (although I will NEVER agree with the specific targeting of civilians).
- To question the all to common 'tit-for-tat' justification of any act of violence when it specifically targets civilians.