Angry Muslims burn US flags in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province in protest to the film ‘Innocence of Muslims.’ (Mindanao Examiner)
MARAWI CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 17, 2012) – Hundreds of angry Muslims protesting the film “Innocence of Muslims” burned American flags at a huge rally on Monday in the southern Philippine city of Marawi.
The violence was triggered by the film which mocked Islam. It also sparked riots and protests in Yemen, Libya and Egypt and could spread to other Middle Easter countries, according to the Filipino migrants group called Migrante-Middle East.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said Filipino workers abroad should stay vigilant amid the growing anti-US protests over the film.
“To emphasize the need to be safe and to secure ourselves from harm and violent acts, we strongly urge our fellow OFWs to stay clear of protesting crowds especially near the diplomatic posts of the US and similar establishments as targets of massive protests.”
“Once again, we strongly advised our fellow Filipinos in the Middle East to be respectful of the host government state religion and their symbols,” Monterona said, adding that Filipinos abroad must refrain from maligning any religion and their prophets as what Innocence of Muslims had disrespectfully conveyed.
“Our Muslim brothers won’t rise up in arms for nothing. Certainly, the movie Innocence of Muslims had done wrong or maliciously conveyed that is something protesting or even revolting courtesy of some war-monger US propagandists,” Monterona said.
Filipino Muslims have denounced the film. And others threatened to kill filmmaker Egyptian-American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is believed behind the “Innocence of Muslims,” and used the name Sam Becile as the film’s director.
The rally attracted more than 300 people in Marawi, but there were no reports of attacks on US interest in the province where American forces maintain small contingent training Filipino troops in anti-terrorism.
The country’s largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has appealed to Muslims not to resort to violence.
“We cannot address violence with violence. Islam is peace and a peaceful protest is better that a violent protest to express disgust,” Von Al-Haq, a spokesman for the MILF which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
In Zamboanga City where the US military maintains a base, local army commanders assured the safety of American forces.
“Forced protection is integral to US forces activities in Mindanao. Even before the attack of their embassy (in Libya), they have been implementing strict security procedures to protect their soldiers, equipment and temporary facilities. They do not move around without their AFP and PNP counterparts and make the necessary coordination if they require additional security,” said a statement released by the Western Mindanao Command.(Mindanao Examiner)