Anti-terrorism law is anti-Muslim, anti-Filipino

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HOW DARE a non-Muslim defend the anti-terror law and cite the alleged peace in Mindanao as having been occasioned by the law when countless of our Muslim brothers have been falsely tagged as terrorists!

No longer should we pass it as a joke that Muslims are violent. It is prejudice like this that leads to abuses and discrimination from law enforcers.

The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020 allows arbitrary arrests and long prison sentences of suspected individuals. History will teach us that Muslims are especially at risk of being randomly suspected as terrorists.

On June 12, six officers from the Manila Police District reportedly illegally broke into the home of Muslim jewelry traders Abdullah Palawan Maute and Saadudin Alawiya in San Andres Bukid without any search warrant or warrant of arrest. It is terrifying that even before the ATA was signed into law, such illegal break-ins had been happening. And yet, lawmakers and supporters of the law have turned a blind eye.

Disgustingly, in January, Manila Police District Chief Brigadier General Bernabe Balba signed a memorandum ordering station commanders to submit personal information of Muslim students in Metro Manila. The memorandum cites the information is part of “the strengthening of peace-building and counter violent extremism of the PNP.”

Call it what it is—islamophobia in disguise of law enforcement.

When law enforcers insinuate that young Muslims are predisposed to violent extremism, it should alarm the people that a law like ATA will only catalyze these discriminatory practices into lethal abuses.

Supporters of the ATA will cite the 2017 Marawi siege to justify its importance. But Marawi was laid siege by Maute and Islamic State militants; the victims were Muslims themselves. Undeniably, the threat of terrorism in the country is real, but this law will only make things worse. The ATA will only open old wounds and throw away years of peace-making efforts between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The government should have learned by now that militaristic approaches to terrorism have given rise to splinter groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf, and Maute Group. In fact, it was the years of fighting against these groups that have impeded the passing of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was sought by Muslims to ensure peace in Mindanao.

And now, the anti-terror law, which threatens the safety of our Muslim brothers, will only undermine all those efforts.

It’s time the Supreme Court listen to the people. The more than 25 petitions filed against the Anti-terrorism law should impress upon the justices and lawmakers that the law smacks of state terrorism and should therefore be declared unconstitutional.

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