Zamboanga (Agenzia Fides) - "There are various reasons behind the recent terrorist attacks: a mix of political problems and misunderstanding of religion by some groups, in particular for the attack in Jolo, where threats to the Church were known": this is what was said by Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) and for 30 years in Zamboanga, in the South of the Philippines, where there was a new attack on the mosque in Talon-Talon, a small mosque in a populated area of the city, which killed two Muslim religious leaders and wounded at least 5 people.
The missionary, founder of the Islamic-Christian "Silsilah" movement, points out: "Jolo, in the past, was a peaceful place and the relationship between Muslims and Christians was good, but in more recent times it has worsened. We are not surprised at what happened in Jolo, because some time ago an extremist group complained about the presence of a Catholic church built in the center of the city composed of a population with a large Muslim majority".
And he continues: "The city of Zamboanga, in the last five years, has been peaceful, although sometimes there was an alert. The attack on the mosque was a surprise considering that many efforts are made in the city to build better relations between Muslims and Christians".
Fr. D'Ambra, current Executive Secretary of the Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue, in the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, visited the bombed mosque, where he stopped to pray, and said: "Why these dead? Why this attack? Who is behind it? Even if we do not know how to answer the many questions, we must continue to promote dialogue and peace".
The Secretary highlights that from 1 to 7 February the World Interfaith Harmony Week is celebrated around the world, on the theme "Celebrate Truth, Sincerity and Forgiveness", "values that we must follow, to foster hope", he says.
The Week, he recalls, "is celebrated in Mindanao every year to tell the world that here in Mindanao many believe in peace and most Muslims and Christians are committed to overcoming the fear of prejudices, and support solutions regarding security and reconciliation".
Father D'Ambra appeals to religious and political leaders to "be united, overcoming the divisions or interests that divide many of them, to find a path of mutual common understanding and reach those groups that use violence, justifying it with religious reasons". "Christians and Muslims - he concludes - condemn what happened in Jolo and Zamboanga, I invite everyone to do their part and work together for the common good of the nation". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/1/2019)