INQUIRER COLUMNS

EDITORIAL: CONTROVERSY-HAPPY

What was Malacañang thinking, anyway? That it could exclude Nora Aunor from the list of new National Artists it was declaring, and the public would react with a shrug? That it could strike out her name without even a perfunctory explanation, and no one would care? The shortlist of candidates for National Artist drawn up by the joint board of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines was forwarded to Malacañang for President Aquino’s signature many months ago; it was reportedly signed last April. But the President’s imprimatur was neither automatic nor pro forma. The Malacañang Honors Committee, an obscure body that the public first heard of during the waning days of the Arroyo administration when it forced additional names into the list submitted by the NCCA-CCP, has apparently been retained; it was to spend more months supposedly doing additional vetting on those recommended for the highest state award for the arts. Let’s set aside for a moment the patent irregularity in that setup—that a shortlist drawn up after assiduous, sometimes rancorous, discussion by artists and cultural workers themselves could be overturned by Palace bureaucrats whose familiarity with, or interest in, the work of Filipino artists and their creative legacies is questionable at best. The names of the Honors Committee members—Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad, Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria, and a couple of other functionaries—are hardly grounds to reasonably conclude that they are in a good position to pass judgment on the work of Cirilo Bautista for literature, Alice Reyes for dance, Ramon Santos for music, et al. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino big bully?

By Oscar Franklin Tan --The utter lack of outcry regarding the criminal charges against President Aquino’s 19-year-old heckler highlights the fact that Filipinos have no concept of rights. Each curtailment of rights robs, not an individual, but each of us of something fundamental.
The President was speaking on Independence Day in Naga City when Ateneo de Naga student Pio Emmanuel Mijares shouted, “Out with the pork barrel king! There is no change in the Philippines!” He waved a banner with a message that read: “Oust P-Noy and Free Benito Tiamzon and all political prisoners and scrap all forms of pork! DAP, Ibasura.” He now faces a short jail term.
Mijares’ message was unimpressive. Far from being a paragon of scintillating brilliance, it was a disjointed hodgepodge of flavor-of-the-month complaints. Many would roll their eyes and dismiss him as yet another “utak pulbura” who protests no matter who the president is. That the protest was trite, however, is exactly why we should protect it. Speech that is popular and welcome needs no protection.
ThePOC.net’s Jego Ragragio raised the textbook counter that authorities may prescribe a speech’s time, manner and place to prevent disruption, and that they in fact prevented rallying militant groups in Naga’s city center from approaching the President’s venue. This is legalese for Mijares should have respected the Independence Day event led by no less than the President and put up his own stage. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Polarizing vigilantes 

By Juan L. Mercado  -Are you a Catholic, Protestant, Sikh, Taoist, or Buddhist living in or visiting Malaysia? Watch it. You are not to use the word “Allah” referring to God, that country’s highest court said in a 4-3 decision this week. Only Muslims may do that under the law. Suppose you’re Catholic, Protestant, Sikh, Taoist, or Buddhist just touring, or even living in, the state of Sarawak, the population of which, according to the 2010 head count, is 44 percent Christians, 30 percent Muslims, and the rest from other faiths. You may address God as “our Father” who causes “his sun to rise on the good and the evil and rain to fall on the just and unjust.” The edict applies only to the Catholic weekly Herald, Kuala Lumpur said after the decision was issued. Since 2007, the Herald had been ordered to cease using “Allah” on grounds of “national security and public order.” Malaysian Christians may use “Allah” in church. Herald editor Fr. Lawrence Andrew sued, saying: “We have a responsibility to uphold religious freedom.” “Conflicting interpretations of the ban only added confusion to a debate that inflamed religious tensions,” wrote The Associated Press’ Eileen Ng. Ethnic Malays form two-thirds of Malaysia’s population. Chinese and Indians number 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Christians number about 9 percent. This ruling “shows how fast religious tolerance is falling in Malaysia,” the New York-based Human Rights Watch noted. “Government should work to promote freedom of religion rather than politically exploit religious wedge issues.” Indeed, the ban appears “politically motivated,” writes William Case at the City University of Hong Kong’s Department of Asian and International Studies. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party failed to win a majority in the last election. He’s strapped to recapture support of the country’s ethnic Malay, and mostly Muslim, community. “It’s too soon to tell how government will implement the ban,” Case adds. The judiciary may say one thing, the Cabinet another. “That would lead to further attacks on churches as Malaysia has become more polarized on ethnic, and increasingly religious, grounds. However, verbal threats against religious groups in Malaysia seldom translate into the kind of violence seen elsewhere…” *READ MORE...

ALSO: Preparing for Ramadan 

By Michael Tan  --There is growing awareness among non-Muslims in the Philippines of Ramadan, the month of fasting, mainly because of Eid’l Fitr, which is considered a national holiday. But Eid’l Fitr actually marks the end of Ramadan and because it is a festive day, non-Muslim Filipinos tend to think of it as a “Muslim Christmas,” to use the words of some high school students when I asked them if they knew why there were no classes that day. The observance of Ramadan uses the Islamic calendar, and so each year it moves a bit earlier on the western Gregorian calendar. This year, it should start this Saturday, June 28 and because it is not a holiday, many Filipinos will be unaware of it, and its significance. I thought I should devote today’s column to Ramadan, and how our schools and offices can be more sensitive to the needs of Muslims during the month. More than fasting--First, an explanation of what Ramadan is. This is an entire month during which Muslims are supposed to fast from sunrise to sunset. There are actually several levels of fasting. Ordinary fasting is simply not taking food or water during the day. Also prohibited are smoking and sexual activity. Special fasting has an additional element of not saying, hearing or doing wrong. And extra special fasting means abstaining from all thoughts that distract a person from the religious. All adults are supposed to observe Ramadan. Exempted are the ill, and those who are traveling, pregnant or breastfeeding. Diabetics are also exempted, as are those who are menstruating. More than fasting, the month is a time for prayer and reflection, and for doing good, especially zakat or acts of generosity or charity, including sharing food at the end of the day. The observances build up and in the last 10 days of Ramadan, some people go to the extent of observing the i-tikaf, which is a retreat, staying in the mosque for constant prayer and reflection.* READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Controversy-happy

MANILA, JUNE 30, 2014 (INQUIRER) What was Malacañang thinking, anyway? That it could exclude Nora Aunor from the list of new National Artists it was declaring, and the public would react with a shrug? That it could strike out her name without even a perfunctory explanation, and no one would care?

The shortlist of candidates for National Artist drawn up by the joint board of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines was forwarded to Malacañang for President Aquino’s signature many months ago; it was reportedly signed last April. But the President’s imprimatur was neither automatic nor pro forma.

The Malacañang Honors Committee, an obscure body that the public first heard of during the waning days of the Arroyo administration when it forced additional names into the list submitted by the NCCA-CCP, has apparently been retained; it was to spend more months supposedly doing additional vetting on those recommended for the highest state award for the arts.

Let’s set aside for a moment the patent irregularity in that setup—that a shortlist drawn up after assiduous, sometimes rancorous, discussion by artists and cultural workers themselves could be overturned by Palace bureaucrats whose familiarity with, or interest in, the work of Filipino artists and their creative legacies is questionable at best.

The names of the Honors Committee members—Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad, Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria, and a couple of other functionaries—are hardly grounds to reasonably conclude that they are in a good position to pass judgment on the work of Cirilo Bautista for literature, Alice Reyes for dance, Ramon Santos for music, et al.

*But pass judgment they did. Based on the Honors Committee’s recommendation to the President, Bautista, Reyes and Santos were proclaimed, along with Francisco Coching (visual arts), Francisco Feliciano (music) and Jose Maria Zaragoza (architecture, design and allied arts).

Everyone on the list submitted by the NCCA-CCP—except Aunor.

As it happens, it was Aunor who reportedly garnered the highest number of votes during the NCCA-CCP deliberations.

It is Aunor’s body of work that’s also the most iconic and celebrated of all the nominees, and whose impact on Filipino pop culture and mass entertainment is incontestable.

Ignoring the actress for whatever reason—and compounding that snub by dismissing the need for any explanation—was bound, at the very least, to raise questions. But Malacañang apparently never considered that possibility; the uproar that ensued once again caught it completely by surprise.

What exactly did the President’s advisers deliberate on in the many months they spent ostensibly revisiting the shortlist? So far, the most plausible explanation from the grapevine for the rejection was that Aunor’s felony conviction in the United States for drug possession amounted to a major criminal offense that, under equivalent laws, would have netted her about 20 years in a local jail—and that kind of record is anathema to someone of National Artist standing.

Fine; it’s a good point for discussion, especially in a country as generally indifferent to the arts as ours is: how far personal morality should count in considering and appreciating an artist’s contribution to his/her community.

But the public can’t even have the satisfaction of that debate because Malacañang would rather not talk about its decision to rebuff Aunor. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma would only assert that it’s the President’s prerogative to affirm, or not, the National Artist recommendations—a prerogative that, in all the current outcry, has never been in question.

No one in the President’s top-heavy communications circle even anticipated that approving all the names in the list except the biggest one would be controversial (and thus no one prepared not only a proper rollout but also a good enough response to possible criticism)? No one in that overstaffed office imagined that this issue could spiral into yet another PR debacle (for an administration that has had one too many over the years, and yet still fumbles every time)?

Who needs enemies when this administration demonstrates time and again its unerring capacity to shoot itself in the foot?

Aquino big bully? By Oscar Franklin TanPhilippine Daily Inquirer12:06 am | Friday, June 27th, 2014


By Oscar Franklin Tan

The utter lack of outcry regarding the criminal charges against President Aquino’s 19-year-old heckler highlights the fact that Filipinos have no concept of rights. Each curtailment of rights robs, not an individual, but each of us of something fundamental.

The President was speaking on Independence Day in Naga City when Ateneo de Naga student Pio Emmanuel Mijares shouted, “Out with the pork barrel king! There is no change in the Philippines!”

He waved a banner with a message that read: “Oust P-Noy and Free Benito Tiamzon and all political prisoners and scrap all forms of pork! DAP, Ibasura.”

He now faces a short jail term.

Mijares’ message was unimpressive. Far from being a paragon of scintillating brilliance, it was a disjointed hodgepodge of flavor-of-the-month complaints. Many would roll their eyes and dismiss him as yet another “utak pulbura” who protests no matter who the president is. That the protest was trite, however, is exactly why we should protect it.

Speech that is popular and welcome needs no protection.

ThePOC.net’s Jego Ragragio raised the textbook counter that authorities may prescribe a speech’s time, manner and place to prevent disruption, and that they in fact prevented rallying militant groups in Naga’s city center from approaching the President’s venue.

This is legalese for Mijares should have respected the Independence Day event led by no less than the President and put up his own stage.

*This is precisely the counter against Carlos Celdran.

In 2010, he dressed up in Rizal-era costume and entered the Manila Cathedral with his “Damaso” placard to protest the Catholic Church’s involvement in politics, disrupting an ecumenical service.

He is currently appealing his conviction for “offending religious feelings,” a crime committed by “anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”

The weakness of attacking this crime on grounds of free speech is that laws may reasonably punish disturbances in places of worship, along with hospitals and schools. Thus, Celdran haters likewise insist that he had all the right in the world to wave his placard outside the cathedral. (I suggested Celdran raise the simpler defense that the decision convicting him never explained what Catholic doctrine he ridiculed to offend along religious and not political lines. “Celdran jailed for offending political feelings,” 1/31/2013)

The rebuttal, however, is that the crime of “offending religious feelings” must be unconstitutional today because it punishes only speech criticizing religious doctrine, but not speech that praises it.

Had Celdran entered screaming “I love Jesus,” he would never have been arrested no matter how disruptive he was.

This 1930 crime is inherently viewpoint-biased and impermissibly hijacks our courts as archaic censors, and we realize that it will always be the speech and not the disruption that is punished.

Likewise, Mijares would never have been arrested had he instead screamed “I love Kris Aquino!” Thus, such troublemakers must be tolerated because the possibility of selective prosecution against them in the guise of maintaining order is a far greater evil.

But even without reenacting a human rights class, the scene should have immediately struck lawyer and nonlawyer alike as unfortunate.

Imagine our President—our Commander in chief who marshals the illimitable hosts of our state, our great voice in foreign affairs, and our living embodiment of our nation’s hopes and dreams—summoning all his omnipotence to smite a 19-year-old student armed with a piece of cloth. Doubly ironic, this scene played out on our Independence Day and with an Aquino, no less.

Militants alluded to Archimedes Trajano, a Mapua student leader found dead during martial law after criticizing a Marcos family member at a university forum.

The Inquirer’s Boying Pimentel posted a YouTube clip of US President Barack Obama answering a heckler with a smile and exclaiming, “We have free speech in this country!”—to the audience’s applause.

Even the charges seem overkill. Mijares and his cloth banner face imprisonment for “tumults and disturbance of public orders,” violated by anyone who causes “any serious disturbance in a public place,” and for assaulting a policeman, allegedly by resisting arrest and tearing his uniform. (Mijares, in turn, accused that policeman of stuffing his banner in his mouth.)

Malacañang spokesperson Abigail Valte argued that it was local police and not presidential security who charged Mijares, but this is beside the point. I expected someone like Mr. Aquino, who has inspired young voters such as Mijares with his integrity and simplicity, to laugh off the disturbance or even offer Mijares a job to challenge him to try running the government instead of criticizing it.

The more one disapproves of a Celdran or a Mijares, the more one must defend their freedom of speech, lest the day come when one feels the need to speak and is left with an emasculated right.

If a student heckler is ever arrested again, we must shake off our apathy with the quote in Washington DC’s Holocaust Museum: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Oscar Franklin Tan (@oscarfbtan, facebook.com/OscarFranklinTan) cochairs the Philippine Bar Association Committee on Constitutional Law and teaches at the University of the East.

Polarizing vigilantes By Juan L. Mercado Philippine Daily Inquirer3:43 am | Saturday, June 28th, 2014


Juan L. Mercado

Are you a Catholic, Protestant, Sikh, Taoist, or Buddhist living in or visiting Malaysia? Watch it. You are not to use the word “Allah” referring to God, that country’s highest court said in a 4-3 decision this week. Only Muslims may do that under the law.

Suppose you’re Catholic, Protestant, Sikh, Taoist, or Buddhist just touring, or even living in, the state of Sarawak, the population of which, according to the 2010 head count, is 44 percent Christians, 30 percent Muslims, and the rest from other faiths. You may address God as “our Father” who causes “his sun to rise on the good and the evil and rain to fall on the just and unjust.”

The edict applies only to the Catholic weekly Herald, Kuala Lumpur said after the decision was issued. Since 2007, the Herald had been ordered to cease using “Allah” on grounds of “national security and public order.” Malaysian Christians may use “Allah” in church. Herald editor Fr. Lawrence Andrew sued, saying: “We have a responsibility to uphold religious freedom.”

“Conflicting interpretations of the ban only added confusion to a debate that inflamed religious tensions,” wrote The Associated Press’ Eileen Ng. Ethnic Malays form two-thirds of Malaysia’s population. Chinese and Indians number 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Christians number about 9 percent.

This ruling “shows how fast religious tolerance is falling in Malaysia,” the New York-based Human Rights Watch noted. “Government should work to promote freedom of religion rather than politically exploit religious wedge issues.”

Indeed, the ban appears “politically motivated,” writes William Case at the City University of Hong Kong’s Department of Asian and International Studies. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party failed to win a majority in the last election. He’s strapped to recapture support of the country’s ethnic Malay, and mostly Muslim, community.

“It’s too soon to tell how government will implement the ban,” Case adds. The judiciary may say one thing, the Cabinet another. “That would lead to further attacks on churches as Malaysia has become more polarized on ethnic, and increasingly religious, grounds. However, verbal threats against religious groups in Malaysia seldom translate into the kind of violence seen elsewhere…”

*The decision doesn’t stipulate the penalty for violating the ban. But it appears that a newspaper using the term would lose its publishing license. Whatever, Christians will continue to use “Allah” in bibles and during church gatherings, said the Christian Federation of Malaysia chair, Rev. Eu Hong Seng, as they did even before Malaysia split from Singapore.

In January, authorities confiscated 300 bibles in Selangor state. In late 2009, it impounded 15,100 bibles imported from Indonesia. Two Bible Society officials were investigated for breaking a state law that bans non-Muslims from using the word “Allah,” BBC reported.

As of 2012, at least 17 nations (9 percent worldwide) have police that enforce religious norms, according to a new analysis of data, says the Pew Research Center. “In Malaysia, state Islamic religious enforcement officers and police carried out raids to enforce the Sharia law against indecent dress. [They] banned publications, alcohol consumption and khalwat (close proximity to a member of the opposite sex),” according to the US State Department.

Religious intolerance spawns even body snatching, blogs Mariam Mokhtar, who heads the Perak Liberation Organisation.

“The most prominent [victim] is former chief justice Mohamed Suffian Hashim. A Cambridge scholar, he married Buny, a British Christian. She wanted to be cremated. But before services at the Cheras crematorium, religious officials took [the body] to Kuala Kangsar for burial according to Muslim rites.”

Mokhtar cites similar body-snatching cases, including that of 74-year-old Gan Eng Gor.

Malaysia is “an ethnically polarized society,” the New York Times’ Thomas Fuller noted earlier. “Talent often does not rise to the top of government because of patronage politics within the ruling party dominated, until now, by the United National Malays Organization.

“A system of ethnic preferences blocks minorities, mainly ethnic Chinese and Indians, from government service. Ethnic Malays corner nearly all top government positions and receive a host of government preferences.”

The local press is muzzled by licensing laws. “There has always been a kind of wait-for-instructions-from-the-top attitude.” Authoritarian laws help keep an ascendant opposition in check, as the opposition’s Anwar Ibrahim found in recycled sodomy charges. “The government is accustomed to getting its way. When you are not challenged in any meaningful way, you get complacent.”

Late March, a once-unthinkable interfaith meeting gathered in Kuala Lumpur, after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared. The imam cupped his palms to invoke Allah for the 239 passengers and crew. “The prayer was not unusual,” wrote the AP’s Eileen Ng. But the setting was a Damansara Perdana shopping mall.

“Today is a rare occasion for us to bring unity and harmony,” prayed a Buddhist monk. “We are all in tears waiting for you,” said Shantha Venugopal, the Hindu representative. The Taoist priest beseeched for divine intervention, while the Sikh leader pleaded for closure. A Catholic read from the bible.

The rites “would have been inconceivable” before March 8 in a country “where religious bigotry is often openly displayed,” the AP reported.

Tali lega lembar tak suang-sunang putus, a Malay proverb says. A rope of three strands takes some breaking. Alas, it unwound too soon.

Preparing for Ramadan By Michael L. TanPhilippine Daily Inquirer12:09 am | Friday, June 27th, 2014


By Michael L. Tan

There is growing awareness among non-Muslims in the Philippines of Ramadan, the month of fasting, mainly because of Eid’l Fitr, which is considered a national holiday.

But Eid’l Fitr actually marks the end of Ramadan and because it is a festive day, non-Muslim Filipinos tend to think of it as a “Muslim Christmas,” to use the words of some high school students when I asked them if they knew why there were no classes that day.

The observance of Ramadan uses the Islamic calendar, and so each year it moves a bit earlier on the western Gregorian calendar. This year, it should start this Saturday, June 28 and because it is not a holiday, many Filipinos will be unaware of it, and its significance.

I thought I should devote today’s column to Ramadan, and how our schools and offices can be more sensitive to the needs of Muslims during the month.

More than fasting

First, an explanation of what Ramadan is. This is an entire month during which Muslims are supposed to fast from sunrise to sunset. There are actually several levels of fasting. Ordinary fasting is simply not taking food or water during the day.

Also prohibited are smoking and sexual activity. Special fasting has an additional element of not saying, hearing or doing wrong. And extra special fasting means abstaining from all thoughts that distract a person from the religious.

All adults are supposed to observe Ramadan. Exempted are the ill, and those who are traveling, pregnant or breastfeeding. Diabetics are also exempted, as are those who are menstruating.

More than fasting, the month is a time for prayer and reflection, and for doing good, especially zakat or acts of generosity or charity, including sharing food at the end of the day. The observances build up and in the last 10 days of Ramadan, some people go to the extent of observing the i-tikaf, which is a retreat, staying in the mosque for constant prayer and reflection.

*For those who do not do the i-tikaf, the last part of the month is preparing for Eid’l Fitr, which will be a day of feasting and of gift-giving and of more intensive zakat or charity, with the wealthier Muslims expected to prepare large amounts of food for the poor.

What does this all mean for non-Muslims?

As we move toward more multiculturalism, appreciating the diversity of cultures in the Philippines, Ramadan becomes a time to show our cultural competence, an ability to respond to the needs of people that come about because of differences in culture.

I was alerted to these needs a few weeks back, meeting with student representatives of the dorms in UP Diliman. One of them, a Muslim graduate student, said that they appreciated one dorm that relaxed the no-cooking rule in dorms during Ramadan, just for the Muslims.

I made a note of the Muslim students and, last week, alerted the office of student housing to Ramadan coming up, and the importance of allowing the cooking, a concession for Muslim students to prepare suhoor, a meal before sunrise, and iftar, the meal at sunset to break the fast.

The suhoor is particularly challenging because it is so early in the morning. Our 7-Eleven and MiniStop places might want to consider offering a suhoor if they are in areas with many Muslims, but I think Muslims might not trust the preparation of the food which has to be halal, free of pork and pork fat, and if beef, poultry or goats and sheep the animals should have been slaughtered with proper rituals.

Given that there will be no other meal until sunset, schools and offices should be more understanding if the Muslim students and staff are not as energetic or alert, especially toward the end of the day. It also helps for the school or company clinic to offer nutritional advice. I’ve found Muslims unaware that they are exempted from fasting if they are diabetic. Others were not taught some basics around fasting, like avoiding fried and fatty foods during the predawn meal because they can cause indigestion the rest of the day.

Sugary foods should also be avoided during suhoor because blood sugar levels will drop quickly, and lead to easy fatigue. Coffee and even more so, tea, should also be avoided because it causes frequent urination, depleting the body’s minerals, which can’t be replaced until sunset.

There’s growing health consciousness too in what to eat during the permitted times. Bananas are good because they supply potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. High-fiber foods are also advised during the early morning meal because they are lower to digest, which means you don’t get hungry too soon. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruits and vegetables, grains and cereals. These include breads, rolls and crackers made from whole grains.

When I was working with a nonprofit health organization that did research and training, we were always conscious about not scheduling workshops during Ramadan, especially if the event was going to be in Mindanao, or if we intended to invite participants from Indonesia, Malaysia or other countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

If there was no choice but to hold a workshop during Ramadan, we would make sure the Muslim participants could have their suhoor and iftar, as well as breaks so they could pray. Although there is that exemption for traveling Muslims, many still opt to fast during the month.

Fasting’s benefits

The importance given to Ramadan should challenge Christians as well, given how fasting has slowly disappeared from our traditions, even during Lent. It’s striking how all major religions have fasting, a recognition of how material deprivation can actually strengthen people spiritually. I’ve always felt fasting is most valuable because it is voluntary hunger, and therefore allows us to think of those who have no choice but to go hungry.

There are still debates about the physical benefits of fasting. Proponents have long lists of what fasting can do, from weight loss to detoxifying the body. Health professionals do not always agree about these claims, pointing out dangers as well from fasting, especially if someone is suffering from conditions like diabetes.

Generally though, no health professional will say that fasting is unhealthy, when done by healthy people. It still all boils down to a kind of physical and mental discipline, a way of saying no, and yet affirming values about charity and generosity, about emptying our bodies to allow a spiritual “meal” of sorts.

Returning to Ramadan, I hope that it becomes a time to build bridges between Muslims and Christians, a time for mutual solidarity and looking for the many values that we do share. Being more considerate in schools and offices to the needs of our fasting Muslims will be an important way of showing solidarity.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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