Thursday, October 11, 2012

Philippines Enters Agreement With Islamic Rebels; Will Create Area With Sharia Law For Muslims

In the Philippines last Sunday, President Benigno Aquino announced that a preliminary agreement has been reached with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that will end a Muslim insurgency in Mindanao that has gone on for many years. The framework agreement is scheduled to be signed on Oct. 15. The agreement calls for establishment of  an area called Bangsamoro.  According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sharia law rather than the Civil Code will apply to Muslims in Bangsamoro, but any law or regulation to be adopted by the region must assure basic constitutional rights and liberties, including separation of religion and state. Any Islamic religious schools (madaris) will be privately funded. The state will continue to regulate public schools, but will be culturally sensitive in creating the curriculum. A 15-member Transition Commission will work out details of the agreement. Some commentators are concerned that the arrangement will infringe religious liberties of both Muslims and Christians in the area.

UPDATE: In the United States, the White House welcomed the signing of the agreement in an Oct. 15 statement by the Office of the Press Secretary. The White House says that the agreement "marks another step toward ending insurrection and restoring good governance."