War-torn Marawi Mosque reopens in time for Ramadan

Residents of southern Philippine city bemoan lack of local input in government rehabilitation plans
War-torn Marawi Mosque reopens in time for Ramadan

The Grand Mosque the village of Saduc in Marawi has been re-opened in time for the observance of the holy month of Ramadan on May 15. (Photo by Divina Suson/ucanews.com)

A mosque has been re-opened in Marawi almost a year after terrorist gunmen attacked the predominantly Muslim city in the southern Philippines.

The Saduc-Guimba Grand Mosque was opened in time for the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in the middle of May.

The Philippine military has earlier declared the village of Saduc, where the mosque is located, "cleared" of explosives that might have been left during the five months of fighting.

The last congregational prayer was held in the mosque on May 19, 2017, days before the May 23 attack on the city by Islamic State-inspired gunmen.

The ensuing conflict cost the lives of more than a thousand people, mostly terrorists, and resulted in the displacement of almost half a million residents.

An estimated 300,000 people remain in temporary shelters as the government starts the rehabilitation and rebuilding of the city this month.

Authorities have prohibited civilians from entering Marawi despite the Philippine military liberating the city back in October.

The bullet-riddled mosque stands next to a river that served as a boundary between the green zone and the main battle area during the conflict.

Residents have expressed their gratitude to the military for allowing prayers to be held again in the mosque.

"Since I was a child, I have come here to pray," said Langkap Mangata, a resident.

"I was sad when we were initially barred from even visiting the mosque," he said.

Sultan Abdul Atar, however, told ucanews.com that he could not understand why it took too long for the military to re-open the mosque.

"Why are people made to suffer," said the Moro leader. "The government is always creating problems with the people," he said, citing a proposal to build a military camp in the city.

"The residents of Marawi don't want it," said Atar.

Some displaced residents have warned this week that the government will face another rebellion in Marawi if it fails to heed the concerns of people.

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"We have nowhere to go, nowhere to express our anger. This might lead to the rise of another group," Dalomabi Lao Bula, convenor of the United Mothers for Marawi.

She said the government failed to consult residents on the rehabilitation of their city.

"They came up with the reconstruction and recovery program, but we're not a part of it. They have consultations, but plans were presented to us as if was a done deal," she said.

The rehabilitation of the city is estimated to cost at least US$1.4 billion, according to government officials.

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