MANILA, Philippines—Manila’s Filipino-Muslim community will hold a memorial service for slain Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after Friday’s noontime prayers at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo.
Sheikh Jamil Yahya, chair of the Bangsamoro Supreme Council of the Ulama, has been invited to lead the prayers and deliver the khutbah (sermon), according to an advisory. He will also lead a funeral service for Bin Laden afterwards.
After the memorial, several Filipino secular and civil society groups are to hold a “sympathy march-rally” from the mosque to the US Embassy.
Nash Pangadapun, secretary general of Maradeka, an umbrella group of Filipino-Muslim civil society organizations, academic groups and local political parties, said many Muslims, particularly the imams (clerics) and ulama (scholars) are critical of the way the body of Bin Laden was disposed of by US forces sent to kill him.
“If it’s really true that he’s dead, then his body shouldn’t have been thrown to the sea. It should have been given to his family and given a decent burial. The US’ claim that he was buried in accordance with Islamic law is not true because Islamic law requires earth burial for the dead. It’s not too late to recover the body,” Pangadapun told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
Pangadapun, who would be attending Friday’s activities, said many Filipino-Muslims support the causes of Bin Laden but not the way he pursued them.
“Many support his religious and political beliefs but not exactly his means of doing it,” he said. He pointed out that Bin Laden’s general anti-US stand has many sympathizers in Muslim Mindanao.
The US has been involved in Muslim Mindanao since the Philippines became an American colony in the first half of the 20th century and quelled resistance in the Filipino Muslim areas. After independence, the Philippine government was also backed by the US quelling secessionist rebellion in the region.
For its part, the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy expressed concern about possible reprisals by Bin Laden supporters and sympathizers around the world.
“We advise the government as well as our community leaders not to let their guard down. The Al Qaeda and Bin Laden still have supporters in conflict-affected Mindanao,” PCID president Aminah Rasul said in a statement.
With the turmoil in the Arab world, particularly in Libya, and the continuing troubles in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Rasul said the “peacekeepers” of the world are stretched thin.
“Although the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyyah presence in the Philippines has been greatly decimated, we cannot rule out the possibility of violent retaliation by Bin Laden’s Philippine-based supporters,” she said.
Rasul said national and Muslim Mindanao leaders, including political and religious chiefs, should “cooperate in securing the communities from terrorist attacks” especially since the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were holding peace talks.
“We must ensure that the GPH-MILF peace process will be insulated from any untoward event emanating from the death of the feared Al Qaeda leader. Together, we should be focused on ensuring that our aspirations for a genuine and lasting peace and democracy will not be derailed by missteps that may be the result of the aftermath of bin Laden’s death,” Rasul said.