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Religious Conflict in the Philippines: Muslims vs Christians

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Jenna Harrington

on 20 November 2014

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Transcript of Religious Conflict in the Philippines: Muslims vs Christians

Overview
In the Philippines’ largest island known as Mindanao, Muslims and native people lived peacefully until the colonization by the Spanish from the mid 15th century to the 19th century. In this time, the Spanish favored the Christians in the area over the Muslims, creating resentment. After the Spanish-American war, the United States encouraged the Catholics from northern Philippines to the south, making the Muslims and native people a minority. This change led to further discrimination of non-Catholics, resulting in increased tensions and the formation of rebel groups. Among these rebel groups is Abu Sayyaf, the most radical Muslim group who seeks for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao; however, the group is seen as a threat and are trying to be gotten rid of.
Origins of the Conflict
The conflict had been developing during the entirety of Spanish colonization of Mindanao
When independence from Spain was gained in 1946, many Christian immigrants moved to Mindanao, and made Muslims the minority. This caused discrimination of the non-Christian people and triggered the conflict
The cause of current conflict is that the government services the Muslims had were less than that of the immigrant Christians, as well as fewer than they had when under control of the Spanish
Much of the terrorism in the Philippines started in 2000 and was caused by the Communist Insurgency and Islamic extremist in attempt to take over the current government.

Type of conflict & how it has been manifested
The conflict primarily consisted of open violence and discrimination against Muslims by the Philippine government. The conflict between the muslim natives and the christian immigrants has spread politically through discrimination.
Many Islamic terrorists threaten the government and have attacked the country through blatant violence 60+ times over the course of 1971- 2014
The Communist Insurgency have caused many openly violent attacks and have spread conflict through politics by trying to take over the current government of the Philippines.

Spatial extent of conflict
The conflict takes place mainly in the area of Mindanao, the southern part of the Philippines.
Its actions and violence can affect the security of its neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

How long has there been conflict?
The problems in the area of Mindanao have been present since the Spanish-Moro war, which lasted 333 years, starting in the late 1500s and ending in the early 1900s. This was when Spain colonized Mindanao and tried to enforce Christianity upon the Moros (native for Muslims), but they refused.
When Mindanao was granted independence from Spain in 1946, Christians made Muslims the minority and greater tension evolved.
Religious conflict in the Philippines: muslims vs christians
Islamic Terrorists- composed of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, Rajah Sulaiman Movement and Jemaah Islamiyah. The conflicts are “based on political issues conducted by rebel organizations against the Philippine government, its citizens and supporters.” They have held over 50 attacks between the years 1971- 2014.
Muslim Separatist- Opposed conversion to Christianity by the Spanish and lost their land during the Philippines independence to much of the Christian population. They suffer from discrimination today.
Communist Insurgency- Made up of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NPA (New People's Army). Is constantly fighting to gain control of the Philippine Government, which is a presidential representative and a democratic republic. They are currently considered terrorist.
Christian Filipinos- When the Philippines gained independence in 1946, the Christian settlers became the majority in Mindanao. By 1983, 80% of the population of Mindanao was Christian. Because of this, the government became primarily Catholic and has had antagonism from many Muslim groups.
Who is Involved?
Conflict’s affect on people
During the period of Spain’s colonization of Mindanao, the Muslims became a minority to Christians
Muslims were discriminated against and given less rights than the Christians.
The Christian Filipino settlers are in constant fear of the Abu Sayyaf, as this radical Muslim group has abducted, bombed, and killed people of Christian faith.
at least 80 people killed in 2000 during conflict between the rebel Muslims and the government.

Conflict’s presence at
different scales
Global Scale:
At a global scale, the conflict in Mindanao does not seem as major as other, more severe, religious conflicts in the world. There are not as many reports by news stations at an international level about the conflict between the Muslims and Catholics.
Regional Scale:
At a regional scale, the conflict in Mindanao- a southern region of the Philippines- is major and threatens people’s lives daily. In several cases of terrorism, civilians of Christian faith have been abducted, bombed, and killed by the Abu Sayyaf, a group of radical Muslims.
Local Scale:
At a local scale, citizens of the Philippines do not worry too much if they are not in close proximity to the Abu Sayyaf. But if they are, locals continuously stress about when the next attack will happen and how severe it may be.

World Views
For the most part, the majority of the world views the religious conflict between Muslims and Catholics in the Philippines similarly.
Their common perspective on the conflict is that the Catholics are the victims and the Muslims of the Abu Sayyaf are the terrorists, wrongfully harassing the Catholics.
Differently, some Muslim countries view the conflict as the Catholics are the ones muffling the voice of the Muslims, taking away their religious freedom.
America’s view is the same as the majority and expresses empathy for the Catholics and distaste for the treacherous actions of the Abu Sayyaf.
Though mainly, the world agrees that the terrorism is committed by the Muslims, and that the Catholics need to be aided in their defense against the Abu Sayyaf.

Map of Conflict Extent
Resources
http://www.flashpoints.info/CB-Philippines.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_the_Philippines
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-17038024
http://www.geneva-academy.ch/RULAC/current_conflict.php?id_state=171
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorism_in_the_Philippines
http://asiasociety.org/origins-muslim-separatist-movement-philippines
http://www.iiipeace.org/Philippines%20Causes%20of%20Conflict%20between%20Christians%20and%20Muslims.htm
http://www.academia.edu/1433739/Mindanao_Conflict_in_the_Philippines_Ethno-Religious_War_or_Economic_Conflict
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