Human rights and religious groups have voiced opposition to a proposal to issue identification cards to Filipino Muslims as part of a plan to root out extremists in the southern Philippines.
The move is “discriminatory” and “highlights the issue of religion” in the conflict, said Sister Famita Somogod of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.
She said the conflict in Mindanao “is not about religion,” which has been “repeatedly used and abused as an excuse” to create a rift between Christians and Muslims.
Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the “policy clearly discriminates” against Muslims and “could set a dangerous precedent.”
He said the scheme can also “ignite anger among young Muslims who are the primary target for recruitment of extremist groups.”
The governor said the requirement for an identification card should be applied to every resident in the community, not just for Muslims.
Human Rights Watch said the move threatens “to further single out Muslims as part of official counterterrorism efforts.”
The group said the issuance of ID cards to Muslims could violate the rights to equal protection of the law, freedom of movement, and other basic rights.
Ebra Moxsir, president of the Imam Council of the Philippines said his group would only support an ID system “if it is implemented to all, not just Muslims.”
The proposed imposition of the ID system is a response to the perceived failure of Muslim leaders in Marawi to prevent extremist groups from entering the city.
On May 23, terrorist gunmen claiming to be linked to the so-called Islamic State attacked the city of Marawi, burning a Catholic church and a Protestant school.