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Mindanao after the Massacre

Waiting for blue skies over Mindanao, photo: monnaka/flickr

Waiting for blue skies over Mindanao, photo: monnaka/flickr

The horrific massacre in the south of the Philippines that targeted and killed 57 of the family members of mayoral candidate Esmael Magundadatu as well as 30 accompanying journalists, has unleashed tensions, heated debates and new political dynamics in the most restive corner of the country.

A region mostly known for its Islamic insurgency, highlighted in our blog in September, was, in one violent act, revealed as a hotbed of clan politics, powerful civilian militias and potentially devastating political alliances that have implicated the highest echelons of the Philippine political establishment, including President Arroyo herself.

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ISN Weekly Theme: Islam in Southeast Asia

Muslim girls walking to school in Indonesia, photo: Shreyans Bhansali/flickr

Muslim girls walking to school in Indonesia, photo: Shreyans Bhansali/flickr

Islam, Islamic politics and religiously motivated violence are usually issues associated with the wider Middle East region or South Asia.

Less visible, yet no less significant is the presence of Islamic politics, tensions and political expression in Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

A region marked by immense historical and religious diversity, by painful historical schisms, and in certain cases by an unrivaled dynamism and ability to marry Islam with modernity, Southeast Asia deserves closer inspection and more contextually sensitive analysis.

This week the ISN publishes a Special Report on the issue with a backgrounder on Islam in the region and a case study of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines.

We have a wealth of further information on the topic in our Digital Library and Current Affairs section- check out:

  • In our Links section, check out the website of the National Bureau of Asian Research which analyzes less visible issues related to Islam and Muslim societies in Asia.

Mindanao’s Memorandum of Disagreement

Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines

In support of peace? Young MILF fighter in front of peace poster, Mindanao, Philippines. photo: Mark Navales/flickr

The 2008 Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was meant to solve the seemingly intractable and bloody conflict raging, for decades, between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). It was meant to give the disenfranchised and marginalized Muslim minority of the southern Philippines a homeland, self-rule and near-equal status with the Philippine central government after centuries of bloodshed. Instead of bringing the conflict, which reflects a centuries-old stuggle, to an almost clinically clean end, the collapse of the MOA-AD in the summer and fall of 2008 revealed the deep fissures at the heart of the conflict and laid bare the government’s inability and unwillingness to push through a potentially momentous peace deal.

The Memorandum of Agreement had, almost overnight revealed itself as little more than a fractured ‘Memorandum of Disagreement’ devoid of real political backing or popular support. » More

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