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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of young people from school-based Muslim organizations took to the streets on Sunday, October 22, to show support for Palestinians in Gaza, who are affected by Israeli attacks that have so far resulted in the deaths of about 3,000 people over the past two weeks.
They called for a non-violent solution to the conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group, the target of the attacks in Gaza.
Led by the Muslim Youth Council (MYC) of Cagayan de Oro, composed of Muslim student organization heads from 12 secondary and tertiary schools, the youth peace advocates, most of them wearing hijab and kufi, walked a two-kilometer stretch from the Rodelsa Circle in Nazareth village to the Amphitheater in the city’s old commercial area, where they voiced their collective call for peace.
Lieutenant Colonel Evan Viñas, Cagayan de Oro police spokesperson, said law enforcers were deployed to secure the areas through which the “Solidarity Walk for Palestine” demonstrators passed.
They staged the demonstration in downtown Cagayan de Oro for three hours with “no untoward incidents,” Viñas said.
Waving miniature Palestinian flags, the demonstrators brought placards with messages such as “Bombing kids is not self-defense,” “Stop killing Palestinian children,” “Stop the genocide,” and “To stand with Palestine is to stand with humanity.”
They said they acknowledge that Israel’s airstrikes on Palestine’s Gaza were in response to Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, but they pointed out that such resulted in the internal displacement of over 338,000 Palestinians.
MYC Chairperson Abul Khair Casidor said there was no justification for the attacks that caught innocent people in the crossfires, and they remain hopeful that conflict can be resolved through negotiations.
“What is happening to the Palestinian people is severe and unjust, and we need to show our humanity,” part of a statement released by the group read.
Similar mass actions were staged by Muslim groups in other parts of Mindanao earlier.
The groups that signed the statement and took part in the mass demonstration include the following:
- ALIVE-Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School
- Al-Raid Muslim Student Association of University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines
- As-Sakeenah Muslim Students Association of Lumbia National High School
- Capitol University Muslim Students Association
- Hedaya Muslim Student Association of Pilgrim Christian College
- IQRA Southern Philippines College
- Liceo de Cagayan University United Muslim Students Association
- Muslim Student Association of Phinma-Cagayan de Oro College
- Turkish-Filipino Friendship and Solidarity Association.