Ethno-Religious Separatism: Strategies to Cope with Minority Status

Topics: Philippines, Islam, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Pages: 6 (2014 words) Published: May 1, 2013


What strategies have the Muslim in the Philippines use to cope with minority status.

“Senses of identity, belonging and being part of a group or community have always existed. This distinction between them and us helped create a sense of shared values and identity within perceived communities. These boundaries were created to protect, include and exclude, and continue to be used now as in the past. Whilst ones opinion of the most important identity factor might vary, most Muslims take Islam and their overall religious identity to be the middle of their existence upon the idea that Islam is not simply a religion but an honest and holy guide to a good and righteous life. The Islamic concept, din wa daula, (religion and state) establishes that in other for a Muslims to live a righteous life they need to live in a society that understands and support an Islamic ways of life. This call for an Islamic state makes one wonder how Muslims who live in secular nations managed to maintain their religious identity. Due to the fact that identity can be a factor that integrates and segregates, this essay is going to be aimed at investigating the strategies Muslims in the Philippines have adopted to cope with minority status in a highly Christian nation that has a history of ethno-religious conflict. This paper will aim to discuss the themes of national integration, separatism/self-determination as a way to explore the most noticeable strategies that have been adopted by the Muslim in Philippines to cope with their minority status. Due to the somewhat public idea that the Islamic idea of religion and state is central to the unrest in the Philippines, this paper will aim to question weather religion is the central theme to the crisis in the Philippines, whilst also demising the thought that Muslims in the Philippines support the idea of extremism (Stark 2003). The history of the Philippines plays a great part in determining the strategies adopted by the Muslim minority of the nation because it can be used as a justifying factor that explains the actions of the Muslim minorities in the Philippines (Utrecht 1975). The crucial divide which separates minority lifestyles from that of the majority, can be traced back to a conflict of cultures; placing the need of political control central to the Christian’s majority cause of using politics as a form of suppression against the Muslims (Stark 2003). Most people’s understanding of the main motives for the crisis in the Philippines extends to their understanding that the Muslim minority in the nation are engaged in a fight for separatism on religious bases thus leading to the slowly igniting extremist behavior which can be illustrated through the current events like the 2003 hostage crisis in Jolo by the Abu Sayyaf (Sword of the Father) Stark 2003. This somewhat western understanding of the civil struggles in the Philippines is largely the contribution of the western media negative attitude toward Muslims since the events of 9/11. On such bases it can be claimed that the inaccessible causes of what is now seen as Islamic separatist or sometime extremist rebellion that engulfed much of the southern Philippines since the mid-1900s and continues in the southern parts of the nation today can be traced back to historical policies and practices of both colonial and early post-colonial events and discourses (McKenna 2007). This history of the Philippines is one that illustrates the political, social and most noticeablly economic disparities between the Muslims and the Christian majority. Great example of these disparities and acts of ethno-religious discrimination can be illustrated through the 20-year presidency of Ferdinand Marcos. His reign is largely viewed as the climax to the deteriorating crisis between Christian...
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