Christian and Muslim leaders push for 'peace education' in Mindanao schools

Christian and Muslim leaders from Mindanao, Philippines, have signed a peace declaration in Rome which pushes for "peace education" in all school levels as well as their communities in order to foster an environment where amicable coexistence reigns.

(REUTERS / Romeo Ranoco)Smoke billows from a burning building. Marawi, southern Philippines. September 13, 2017.

The peace declaration was signed on Sept. 16 by Cagayan de Oro's Archbishop Antonio Ledesma; Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña; Hayatul Ulama in Mindanao's Dr. Said Zamahsari Salendab; and Regional Darul Ifta-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao executive director Dr. Ustadz Abdulmuhmin Mujahid. The signatories also include International Relations for the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio's head Dr. Mauro Garofalo and Marawi resident Mona Liza Pangan, CBCP News detailed.

"We call for the inclusion of peace education at all levels in our schools, madaris and communities," a portion of the peace declaration said.

It added: "We need to build a culture of peace based on personal integrity, respect for human rights, intercultural dialogue, care for the environment, peaceful coexistence and eradication of poverty."

In addition, the religious leaders welcomed efforts to write "a more inclusive history of Mindanao." The changes include the main causes of the conflicts in the area and information about Muslim and indigenous communities.

After the signing of the peace declaration, the multi-sectoral group issued a joint statement on Sept. 28 that said the conflict in Marawi City which caused the displacement of thousands of residents was connected to three issues in Mindanao. These challenges were violent extremism and terrorism, political peace process implementation, and the role of religious leaders in rebuilding the war-torn city, SunStar reported.

The statement also outlined seven declarations, the first of which was the belief that the violence in Marawi was a form of terrorism and not a religious war. It explained that Christians and Muslims in the city have enjoyed a harmonious relationship and uphold the belief that both their faiths are religions of peace.