Saturday, September 19, 2009

‘Running Priest’ Goes on Fasting to Save the Grand Mosque


‘Running Priest’ Goes on Fasting to Save the Grand Mosque

19 September 2009. Activist priest Father Robert Reyes went on fasting this morning with the Muslims living near the Grand Mosque to mark the end of Ramadan and to signify their opposition to the government’s plan to demolish the mosque located in Pasay City. The demolition will give way for the implementation of the Southwest Public Transport Intermodal Project. The said area is also reportedly being developed for commercial establishments, including casinos.

In a statement, Reyes said he is one with the Muslim community in their fight to save the mosque. He said the mosque has been there for a long time and is already a holy landmark for our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Through the said fast, Reyes is asking the government to heed the call of the people not to relocate the mosque. “Let it stay together with our churches so that it may be seen as a symbol of Muslim and Christian understanding in our country,” said the Cubao Diocese-based Catholic priest.

Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; from dawn until dusk.

Reyes was joined by Task Force Anti-Eviction group composed of various people’s organizations and NGOs such as Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM) and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise (COPE) Foundation who have been supporting the Muslim group in fighting for their sacred place.

“We must remember that there are things beyond and greater than law. Christ even said do not follow the letter of the law without understanding its spirit. Therefore, whatever projects the government has for this land where the mosque is built, spare it from demolition in this way the government can prove its sincerity promoting peace and equality in our country,” Reyes said.

“Our society needs to deepen our acceptance, our respect and appreciation of other religions, especially the very old religion of Islam,” Reyes added.

On the other hand, Abdelmanan Tanandato, leader of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Nademolis sa Roxas Boulevard, said their group is very happy with the support given by the Catholic church and different NGOs. “Their respect towards our culture, rights, and religious beliefs strengthened our hope that we will be able to come up with an amicable solution to this problem,” Tanantado said.

Currently, the group of Tanandato has filed a motion to quash/ hold in abeyance the writ of execution immediately after Sheriff Jeffrey Sales served a notice to vacate on Aug 13, 2009 from Parañaque Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 274.

Tanandato has high-hopes that the court will be favorable to them this time due to the growing support coming from the Catholic Church and from local and international NGOs.

For his part, Jun Alferez, UPA community organizer, said there is a total of 3,295 families evicted this year alone as a result of the government’s supposed “beautification” projects. -30-

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