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HIJAB Run: Muslim Women and Soldiers Run for Peace and Religious Understanding

Women, Muslims, and soldiers pose before the start of the HIJAB RUN for Peace. (Photo by John Ray Ramos)

Over two hundred Muslim women gathered at the EDSA People Power Monument last Sunday morning, October 14, to express support to the peace process and promote religious understanding.

Dubbed as “HIJAB RUN for Peace: Religious Understanding Now,” hundreds of Muslim and non-Muslim women as well as soldiers ran from the People Power Monument in EDSA to the tree-filled grounds of Camp Aguinaldo at around seven in the morning.

The women wearing pink Hijabs (veils) ran and walked in the sunny but cool morning. Pink was used to symbolize the color of women and was branded as the new color of peace.

Symbolically, EDSA was also the site of the People Power Revolution in 1986 wherein the Filipino people peacefully toppled a dictatorship.

The activity ended with a program where the organizing groups expressed their statements in support of the peace process.

The HIJAB Run was organized by Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN), a network of Moro youth organizations. It was supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Regional Legislative Assembly and Civil Society peace advocates namely, Fitianol Islam, Khadija Center for Muslim Women Studies, PeaceTech, Asia America Initiative, Generation Peace, and GroupAid.

Women, Muslims, and soldiers running for peace and religious understanding. (Photo by John Ray Ramos)

Religious Understanding

The HIJAB Run was also an event to promote awareness on the wearing of Hijab by Muslim women. The wearing of the veils is more than tradition; it is actually prescribed by the Islamic Faith.

Bai Rohaniza Sumndad Usman of YMPN said: “This run by Muslim women in EDSA is the first of its kind and its significance also is it promotes awareness on the wearing of Hijab (veil) as an important part of our Islamic Faith, celebrates diversity and peaceful coexistence in the mainstream.”

The event also aimed to promote the understanding of the practice of Muslim women who experience discourtesy from public.

Amirah Gutoc, chair on Committee on Women of the YMPN, said in a statement, “We believe that religious understanding and freedom is a vital step towards achieving peace in our country. We are inspired to hold this historic run of Hijab-clad Muslim women as a symbolic response to the negative portrayal of Muslims in media, following the hype by the controversial film Innocence of Muslims that caused violent reactions in areas in the Middle East, and locally in relation to the recently discriminatory policy of banning the Hijab in private schools and certain health facilities in the south.”

Mother and child participating in the Hijab Run. (Photo by John Ray Ramos)

Supporting the Peace

The HIJAB Run was also a venue to express support to the peace process. Nash Kasim, chairperson of the YMPN, in fact, said in a statement, “We are very happy to learn about the progress of the peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).”

In its official statement, YMNP commended the efforts of the government and various groups in settling the Bangsamoro Question and in achieving lasting peace. “It is important that all peace-loving Filipinos, amidst diversity, unite and support in making this peace process a success,” YMNP said.

Members of the Young Moro Professionals Network deliver their statement in support of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro. (Photo by John Ray Ramos)

Further, the group said that the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro is important in improving the democracy of the country and in achieving peace.

“Our call to all Filipinos is let’s unite in this vision and framework for peace. Together let’s make another milestone in Philippine history where all Filipinos across the country unite for peace, freedom, and justice. Definitely, we are all Filipino citizens. The Bangsamoro people are Filipino citizens with Bangsamoro identity whose forefathers are original inhabitants since pre-colonial period in Mindanao. We are proud of the heritage of our ancestors as natives of Mindanao as well as of our Filipino citizenship. Historically, the Bangsamoro people are ancestors of Filipinos. Respect to and celebration of our diversity as a people, religious tolerance, and upholding justice and human rights are foundations of peace,” the YMNP said.

Last October 7, 2012, President Aquino announced the developments on the peace talks between the Government and the MILF, and said that the two sides would agree on a framework agreement to achieve just and lasting peace.

As of this writing, October 15, the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine government and MILF is ongoing at Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace.