February 2, 2006 | Anti-Christian massacre in Philippines

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When you are convinced that your god is superior to others it is easy to target those who worship inferior ones.

Religion is a funny thing. It is capable of both soaring, inspirational acts of kindness and humanity and incredibly depressing acts of evil. If only we could ensure more of the former and less of the latter. Our world would b that better off!

Of course many will retort that anyone who does anything bad in the ‘name’ of religion is not really representative of that religion. Their version is aberrant or ill-informed and it is a mistake to see it as normative. After all, which ‘god’ would condone such deeds?

And yet we see all kinds of violence committed to further the one ‘true’ religion. Whether we are talking about the one form of terrorism – for violence motivated by religion is indeed terrorism – that has been making the headlines for decades (i.e. Islamist extremism) or other manifestations (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, etc.), there is no question that god is behind a lot of death.

On this day in 2006, members of Abu Sayyaf knocked on the door of a farm in the Philippines province of Mindanao and opened fire on Christian residents.

One of the trends we see is for one group of religious terrorists to target a specific gathering of people who openly belong to another faith. It is as if the terrorists cannot tolerate difference and want to eliminate it. We do see language such as ‘apostates’ and ‘unbelievers’ used by terrorists to classify other devout worshipers and hence condone killing them.

Anti-Christian massacre in Philippines

On this day in 2006, members of the Islamist extremist group Abu Sayyaf knocked on the door of a farm in the southern Philippines province of Mindanao and opened fire after asking the residents if they were Christian. Six people were confirmed dead, including a nine-month baby girl, and five others were seriously wounded. This was clearly a targeted killing based on religious differences.

The so-called Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is a terrorist organisation that had its origins in the jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It is reported to have received funding from then Al Qaeda’s leader Usama bin Laden himself, although there is now an alleged link to Islamic State (ISIS). ASG has been behind countless kidnappings and killings.

Muslims and Christians have lived in the Philippines for centuries. While there have been tensions, in part due to economic inequalities, it is rare to see massacres like the one against the Christians in Mindinao by ASG. Half a world away another just a few weeks ago another Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, beheaded a Christian pastor.

I fear attacks of this nature will not be the last one.

February 01, 2004 | Bombings in Erbil, Iraq

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