IN the recent pastoral statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Marawi, terrorism and dialogue, the bishops has called for “intra-faith dialogue among our respective co-religionists so that our various faiths may not be exploited and abused for the sake of terrorism and violent extremism.”
At first blush, this may seem a long shot but, come to think of it, this is the more effective way to thwart extremism that usually fuels terrorism. The call to educate both the young and the old in schools, churches and mosques so that “none may be lured by the recruitment efforts of terrorists” is most realistic. The glaring proof is ISIS itself. This terrorist organization has grown so big and so fast because of their superb “education” tactics. As reported by CNN, the U.S. State Department has admitted that ISIS has the most sophisticated propaganda machine of any terrorist organization like “something we have not seen before.” They even harness massive use of social media in order to secure widespread following.
In one of their social media posts, a certain Shiraz Tariq of Copenhagen convincingly argued, “No sane man kills for fun. Not even his enemies. But implementing as Islamic State takes sacrifices. It is our duty to fight the infidels and take back what it was they took away from us. It is our duty to implement the caliphate. Islam is superior and will never be beaten.” This, of course, is propaganda and a very radical way of presenting Islam. Reality takes a different turn.
The pursuit towards intra-faith dialogue will dissuade future recruits from joining terrorist groups such as the Maute. They have to be conscientized that “no religion teaches the killing of innocent people, simply because they belong to another religion” or that “abducting and hostaging, maiming and killing the innocent” contradict the fundamental tenets of Islam.
Other religions or religious denominations need to take intra-faith dialogue seriously, too. The buttressing of Islamophobia is another face of extremism that maybe as fatally consequential as Islamic fundamentalism.