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Desecration of Philippines cathedral draws wide condemnation


Smoke billows from a burning building near a mosque June 2 as government troops continued their assault on Islamic militants in Marawi, Philippines. Muslim religious and political leaders in the Philippines joined a Catholic bishop in condemning the desecration of a Catholic cathedral by terrorist gunmen in the besieged city. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)

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MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Muslim religious and political leaders in the Philippines have joined in the barrage of condemnation of the desecration of a Catholic cathedral by terrorist gunmen in the besieged city of Marawi.

"Let it be known to all that Islam commands all Muslims even in war time to protect places of worship," read a statement issued June 7 by the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines, which represents the Muslim leaders.

The harsh reaction came after a 96-second video surfaced June 5 on social media showing militants wrecking St. Mary Cathedral, ucanews.com reported. The video, believed to be filmed May 23, the day Muslim insurgents began attacking Marawi, shows men smashing and stomping on religious images and a large wooden cross inside the cathedral.

They later burned the church and abducted Father Teresito Soganub, vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi, and several church workers.

The Muslim leaders said, "what this terrorist group has done is un-Islamic and a blatant disrespect and disregard of the teachings of Islam."

"They do not represent Islam but the enemies of Islam," they said.

Their comments were the most recent censure of the church attack. A local governor and the Catholic bishop who heads the prelature also condemned the desecration.

Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi was angered by insurgents' actions after seeing the video. "Our faith has really been trampled on," he said.

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