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Basilan Catholics get threats to convert

07/19/2008 | 06:04 PM

MANILA, Philippines — A man who took responsibility for sending extortion letters to residents of Basilan, including the Catholic bishop, claimed on Saturday that he is with the Abu Sayyaf extremist group.

The man who called himself Paruji Nur Hassan J. Kallitut confirmed writing letters to non-Muslims in the province, telling them to either convert to Islam or pay “Islamic taxes" if they don’t want to be harmed.

Ginagawa namin ito kasi kayo, ang mga pamilya nyo pumasok dito sa lugar namin, alam nyo ang Basilan, lugar ito ng mga Muslim, lugar ng mga Yakan, inagaw lang ng mga ninuno nya sa mga ninuno namin…," Kalittut said in an interview with Radio Veritas on Saturday.

The interview followed that with Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad, who complained that the renewed threats has caused fear and panic among Catholics in Basilan.

Jumoad said the extortion letter he received on Friday was similar to those received by some families in Isabela, the capital of Basilan.

“This is a painful letter being addressed to the Catholic faithful of Basilan. It is okay to be poor and I could endure having no food for a day or two but to receive threat such as this is miserable because this is something psychological to spend sleepless night due to threats would be more dangerous than to have no food and to be poor," Jumoad said in the interview.

The letter said they were mujahidins or Islamic warriors who were carrying a supposed injunction of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, to convert every non-Muslim residing in the province.

Ang kautusan ng Qur’an kung meron man na Christiano na nainirahan sa lugar ng mga Muslim kailangan nyo mag convert sa Islam, ‘pag ayaw n’yang mag convert sa Islam, kailangan nyong magbigay ng jizya (Islamic tax) kung ayaw magbigay ng jizya (Islamic tax) pwede silang gamitan ng dahas o sandata o gerahin! (The Qur’an’s instructions is that if there are Christians leaving in a place for Muslims, they have to be converted to Islam. If they don’t want to convert to Islam, they have to pay the Islamic tax. If they refuse to pay, they can be subjected to violence)," the letter said.

Recipients of the letter were given 15 days to respond, and that non-response would be considered a hostile response.

Jumoad said he contacted the mobile phone number listed in the letter and a man calling himself Nur Hassan said they were "Islamic warriors."

In the interview with Radio Veritas, Nur Hassan further said they were the Al-Harakatul Islamiyya, which he said is the Abu Sayyaf.

I thought Islam is a religion of peace ( as some would say )... WTF


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