Muslim leaders in the Philippines have branded as “un-Islamic” the desecration and burning of St. Mary’s Catholic cathedral by a ISIS-linked group in Marawi City in southern Mindanao.

Following a failed government attempt to capture a terrorist leader in Marawi, Terrorist gunmen belonging the Maute terrorist group claiming to have links with the ISIS took a priest and some 200 other people hostage after occupying the city on May 23.  On June 5, a video, believed filmed on May 23, shows gunmen smashing and stomping on religious images and a big wooden cross inside Marawi’s Catholic cathedral. The gunmen shouted "God is great!" while burning pages of the Bible, photographs of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI, the bishop's chair, and other religious articles. 

The National Ulama Conference of the Philippines said the destruction of religious icons and items used in Mass by the Maute terrorist group were acts that deserve the strongest condemnation. “Let it be known to all that Islam commands all Muslims even in war time to ‘protect places of worship’,” the Ulama said.  The Muslim clerics said that the incident was a “blatant disrespect and disregard” of the teachings of Islam.  “They do not represent Islam but enemy of Islam,” they said.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) also criticized the local terror group that brought violence to the country’s only Islamic city.  In a strong statement, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the actions of the Maute group were “inhumane and unacceptable”.   “These terrorists are nothing but hypocrites who undermine the true essence of Islam,” he said. “They are the worst of the creation.”

The Regional Darul Ifta, the region’s highest Islamic authority, also deplored the incident and called it “evil”.  “The Regional Darul Ifta strongly condemns the killing of Christians, the burning, destroying and desecrating of the church in Marawi City,” it said.  According to them, the incident was perpetrated “to arouse hatred between good Muslims and Christians in the region.”