LOOK: Marawi residents hold first Islamic Friday prayer in Ground Zero after 2 years
All photos by Norhanidah Macatoon
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – For the first time since the Marawi Siege of 2017, residents of the city were able to hold again the Islamic Friday prayer inside the former battlefield or “Ground Zero” on November 1.
Hundreds joined the Jum’ah congregational prayer organized by Saksi Islamic Radio Forum Incorporated, a radio station based in Marawi. With the ruins just behind them, emotional survivors prayed for forgiveness and for a war not to happen again in their community.
Residents also used the event as a venue to voice their strong disagreement over the proposed construction of a new military camp in the heart of the city, and to plead for esidents to be allowed to return and rebuild their homes as soon as possible.
Displaced resident Sittie Mariam Al-Hadja said the sight of the ruins in Marawi City triggers memories of the siege, and the proposed military camp worsens their emotional ordeal.
“Sana di sa kanila ibigay ni Allah na makapagpatayo sila ng bagong military camp sa MAA (most affected area) Marawi City. Grand Masjid na lang instead of new military camp,” she said. (I pray Allah will not allow them to build a new military camp in the most affected area in Marawi City. Build a Grand Masjid instead of a new military camp.)
A large part of Marawi City was destroyed in a 5-month urban battle in 2017, when ISIS-backed local terror group Maute occupied the city. Over 100,000 Marawi residents remain displaced two years after the city was declared "liberated" by President Rodrigo Duterte. Residents are barred from returning to their homes for safety concerns over unexploded bombs left by terrorists. (READ: Unacceptable to make Marawi residents wait until 2021 to return – civic leader)
In a video posted on the “Ground Zero Marawi City” Facebook page on Thursday, October 31, Sheikh Omar Dimacaling said, “We pray that this land, Islamic City of Marawi, will be handed back to us peacefully.” – Rappler.com