Mocha's post on Marawi mosque stirs controversy

MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Another visit, another controversy.

A social media post of Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson showing President Rodrigo Duterte and government officials visiting a mosque inside the battle area in Marawi on Monday, September 11, raised accusations of religious insensitivity.

Uson's video post showed her, Duterte, and other government officials with their boots on inside the religious establishment, contrary to the Muslim practice of removing their footwear when entering mosques.

Uson and at least one more woman in the video were also criticized for not wearing a hijab while they were inside the mosque.

Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Committee spokesman Zia Alonto Adiong made an appeal to government officials.

"We advice caution to our officials to prudently carry out their mandate in a manner that conforms with religious standards and protocols when entering religious establishments in order to maintain respect to the sensitive nature of places of worship," Adiong said in a statement.

Uson's video has since been removed from her Facebook page.  

A public post on Facebook by Marawi resident Drieza Abato Lininding got a lot of reaction from fellow residents angered by Uson's post.

"The least that the President and his men could do now to the almost half a million displaced Maranaos is to show some religious sensitivity. Their presence and of Mocha could be considered by many Muslims as desecration of our Masjid," Lininding said.

Lininding's post prompted angry comments directed at Uson although there's a few who found nothing wrong in the video, too. 

Maranao resident Samira Gutoc Tomawis, former assemblyman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Uson's post "reminded evacuees of their alienation from home."

"It's already depressing our mosques in the Islamic City have been used in war, abandoned and no longer gathering congregations. Then you rub salt on the wound. Coming from a casino controversy, Mocha doing selfie on a bullet-ridden historic mosque is reminding evacuees their alienation from home," she said.

The war that is on its 4th month displaced almost all of Marawi's about 200,000 residents. As the military claims the battle area has been narrowed to 20 hectares, many are clamoring to go back to their homes in the so-called safe zones. But the military is cautious about stray bullets.

In her previous visit to Marawi, Uson also stirred controversy when she posted a video showing the location of military assets inside the battle area. The military has imposed strict rules on the media covering the war to protect operational security in the war zone.

Uson also removed her video post hours later. 

Before even visiting Marawi, Uson was already controversial for posting a "fake photo" of Filipino soldiers fighting in the city. She used a photo of Honduras police when she called on everyone to pray for Philippine soldiers. – Rappler.com