Police profiling of young Muslim Filipinos sparks outrage

Police in Manila want to compile a list of Muslim students living in the capital
Police profiling of young Muslim Filipinos sparks outrage

Police officers march in formation during a parade in Manila in this April 2018 file photo. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP)

A move by police to create a list of Muslim students living in the Philippine capital Manila has sparked uproar among Islamic leaders, civil society, and activist groups.

Children’s rights group Salinlahi said the Philippine National Police proposal promotes not only discrimination but also poses risks to the lives of young people.

A leaked police memorandum required commanders to submit an "updated list of Muslim students" as part of efforts to strengthen "peace-building and counter violent extremism."

It said the audit of students was for the Salaam Police Center, a Muslim police unit, "as a reference in a series of activities" related to police peace and anti-terrorism efforts.

The Manila Police District ordered all its station commanders to "submit an updated list of Muslim students in high school, colleges and universities in your respective areas."

The Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns called the police order an "irrational and unwarranted move."

"The memorandum promotes discrimination and Islamophobia and severely undermines the safety and security of Muslim students," said the group, adding that the profiling may result in possible police surveillance.

It also expressed concern that the list may be used to target students and organizations that are deemed critical of the government.

"Such a move may create fear among Muslim youths of being falsely accused of joining in terrorist activities or sympathizing with violent extremists," read the Salinlahi statement.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers called the proposal "deplorable," adding that "snooping" on young Muslims "will not build a harmonious relationship as open and honest dialogue would."

The teachers' organization said the police move "violates the rights of Muslim students to be free from all forms of discrimination."

"The discriminatory singling out of Muslim students in this campaign is even more problematic considering that Muslim communities have long been caught in the crossfire of government’s wars against extremists," read the group's statement.

Youth group Akbayan said the police's latest move is "outrageously similar" to profiling done under the government's war on drugs.

"The police order reads like Muslim students are possible threats to peace-building efforts .... as if those who practice Islam are exclusively susceptible to violent extremism," said the group.

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