DAVAO CITY—Moro groups on Wednesday condemned the “illegal” arrest of an international Islamic preacher who was conducting a series of Da’wah—or Islamic preaching—in various cities in Mindanao.
Jerome Abba, spokesperson of Suara Bangsamoro, said the arrest of Dr. Abu Ameen Bilal Philips was “discriminatory.”
On Sunday, Philips, 68, was nabbed by police authorities and elements of the National Bureau of Investigation while he was giving a lecture to a group of Moro youth in Davao.
Chief Supt. Wendy Rosario, director of the Philippine National Police in Southern Mindanao reportedly said that Philips was a “threat to national security.”
Davao Today learned that Philips, a Canadian citizen based in Qatar, was also banned in US, Australia, U.K and Germany because of his alleged involvement with Islamic militants in the Middle East.
“His arrest is an outright violation of his rights. He has the freedom to exercise his right to preach, as he is a legitimate Islamic preacher. It is very clear that he is not a terrorist. Philips arrest only indicates that it remains the policy of the government to tag Muslims as terrorist,” Abba said.
On Wednesday, the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development also condemned the arrest of Philips, saying it is an “insult to Islam and to the Muslim Ummah in general.”
In a phone interview, Agakhan M. Sharief, Chairman of Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development, denied reports that Dr. Abu Ameen Bilal Philips was a terrorist and has links to the Al-Qaeda.
“Dr. Philips has never been involved in any terroristic acts and we categorically state that he has no links with the Al-Qaeda,” Sharief told Davao Today.
According to Sharief, Philips was scheduled to give a Da’wah to a group of Muslims in Marawi Wednesday.
Sharief blamed Zamboanga City Mayor Bing Climaco for Philips’ arrest when she blacklisted him since September 4, a day after Philips arrived in the country.
“How come he was issued a Visa by the Bureau of Immigration if he was on the blacklist?” Sharief noted.
“It’s really suspicious. If Mayor Climaco didn’t put him on blacklist in the country this would not have happened. She is really an anti-Muslim,” Sharief said.
Sharief added that a protest rally was held in Lanao People’s Park in Marawi City to condemn Zamboanga Mayor Bing Climaco’s act.
For his part, Drieza Al-Moro, a member of the Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development, said the act of placing Philips in blacklist should be construed as act against Islam.
“This kind of persecution is worse than killing,” Al-Moro said.
He added, “This breeds extremism and terrorism around the world. This is a clear disregard of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to practice one’s religion.” (davaotoday.com)