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– THE PHILIPPINES

 

The PHILIPPINES, in Pacific Asia, has a population of about 85 millions people (06/2007) and stretches on 300,000 km. The country contains two big islands: Luzon, mainly inhabit by Christian, in the Northand Mindanao, mainly inhabit by Muslims in the south.

The PHILIPPINES also contains 7 middle-size islands of approximately 10,000 km each and 7000 small islands, only 300 of them are populated. Although the territory of the PHILIPPINES is about 300,000 km, actually, with the ocean in between, the PHILIPPINES stretches on more than 1 million km. The PHILIPPINES is one of the most populated countries in the world and an independent state since 1946.

About 90% of the PHILIPPINES are Christian, most of the Catholics, about 5% are Muslims and call themselves “Moros”, probably from the Spanish term “Moors” that refers to the Muslims of Spain and the Maghreb (North Africa).  The Spanish ruled the region for hundreds of years. The rest 5% of the population are Buddhists and traditional believers.

The fact that the 4.5 million Muslims are concentrated in the poor South always raised tension with the Christian North and a long-lasting conflict about the self determination, the share of the national wealth and the degree of cultural and political autonomy of the Muslims in the South in a prominently Christian country.

That tension between the small minority of Muslims in the South and the large Christian majority was the natural background for Islamic groups in the South of the PHILIPPINES: groups like Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or Rajah Sulayman Group (RSG). Al emerged and operated in the South of the PHILIPPINES in Mindanao and the surrounding Islands in the last decades.

Although these groups have ties with other militant Islamic groups, not only in Pacific Asia but in the Middle East and Central Asia, and they had a close cooperation with the INDONESIAN JI , it is hard to refer to these groups as a part of the Global Jihad. The ambitions of those groups are in the context of their relations with the PHILIPPINES government and they have no ideological conflict with the Western Democracies as a whole. Only very few PHILIPPINES Muslims participated in the Global Jihad outside the PHILIPPINES.

It seems that the Muslims in the South PHILIPPINES were assisted by the Global Jihad for their needs but did not support the Global Jihad in return.

 

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