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Philippine rebels back 'fatwa' against violent extremism

Moro Islamic Liberation Front vows to encourage efforts to fight against terror groups

Philippine rebels back 'fatwa' against violent extremism

A soldier keeps watch during a military offensive against terrorist position in the southern Philippine city of Marawi. (Photo supplied)

July 5, 2017

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The largest Moro rebel group in the southern Philippines has declared its support for a "fatwa" against violent extremism earlier declared by a senior Islamic religious leader in Mindanao.

A statement by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) released on July 4 said it "fully endorses and supports such edicts without fear and reservation."

Sheik Abehuraira Abdulrahman Udasan, mufti of the Bangsamoro in Mindanao, issued the "Shariah ruling," or "fatwa," against the entry and spread of violent radicalism or extremism" in any part of the region.

The "fatwa" states "an urgent need to fight violent extremism or radicalism, in compliance with the injunction of the Quran and the Prophetic Tradition."

The MILF, which entered into a peace deal with the Philippine government in 2014, has been trying to help government efforts to rescue civilians in the ongoing conflict in Marawi.

Terrorist gunmen who claim to have links with the so-called Islamic State attacked Marawi on May 23 and continue to hold parts of the city.

The MILF said the "fatwa" must be "pursued vigorously to ensure that this violent extremism or radicalism shall not take root in any part of our communities."

The rebel group said radicalism "has no basis whatsoever in any of the teachings of Islam," adding that terror groups have been "creating intrigues and are sowing terror."

The MILF urged the Filipino people "to close ranks and cooperate with one another in order to deny entry or sanctuary to this kind of people."

The issuance of the "fatwa" came as the Philippine military announced that government forces continue to gain ground in Marawi.

The ongoing clashes have already resulted in the death of 337 terrorist gunmen, 82 government forces, and at least 44 civilians.

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