Islamist insurgence in the southern Philippines forces Christians to flee, hide, or die.
The violence, instability, and Christian persecution that ISIS has brought to the Middle East is making its way to a besieged island in the Philippines.
More than 100 people have been killed and hundreds more taken hostage in the span of a week on the island of Mindanao, home to a Muslim minority in the majority-Catholic archipelago. Insurgents have targeted Christians and those who cannot prove themselves to be fellow Muslims. Experts believe the Islamic State is poised to create a caliphate in Southeast Asia, including this island in particular.
After the national army launched an air strike last week to flush out fighters hiding on the island, a priest being held hostage by Islamist militants in the city of Marawi appeared in a video, pleading for Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to “consider” hostages’ lives and stop bombing the city. A spokesman for the army dismissed the video, which was released Tuesday and circulated via social media, as “propaganda.”
Teresito (Chito) Suganob says in the video that he is 1 of about 200 people—including professors, teachers, church workers, and children—being held hostage by the Islamists who stormed the city last week, setting fire to buildings including a cathedral and Christian college.
The militants later killed nine Christians at a checkpoint; local residents identified the victims as Christians and said they had been pulled from a truck, had their hands bound, and then their bodies riddled with bullets and left in a field.
Reports continue to emerge of Christians being specifically targeted, forced to recite Muslim prayers, and used as human shields. Edwin de la Peña, bishop of Marawi, told Catholic news agency Fides that he was …