Zamboanga City in the Philippines presented probably the most brilliant and powerful example of interfaith harmony and cooperation this year.
On September 9, an armed conflict broke out between a secessionist political organization, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the government of the Philippines, creating tension between Christians and Muslims.
The standoff – better known as the Zamboanga Crisis – between the MNLF and the armed forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) ended on September 28, displacing more than 100,000 people.
However, the members of both religious groups affected by the conflict decided to set aside differences and joined hands to help each other rebuild their lives and infrastructure.
International non-profit humanitarian organization the Asia Foundation reported that Christians and Muslims in Zamboanga City formed a coalition of religious leaders called “Zamboanga Esperanza” which leads and directs the rebuilding and repairing of mosques and churches that were partially destroyed during the siege.
Have a look at some of the pictures of the ongoing development in Zamboanga City:
“We thought they were just looking for damaged mosques to rebuild,” Jimmy Villaflores, head of the Santa Catalina village told the Inquirer. “We have not heard of any Muslim helping build a chapel before,” he said.
The Zamboanga Esperanza group along with other Christian and Muslim religious leaders and Mayor Beng Climaco attend the ceremonial program held at the ruins of Christ the King Chapel on Nov. 12, 2013. (Photo: Asia Foundation)