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Philippine cleric condemns bin Laden killing

08 may 2011, 11:22
A Philippine Muslim cleric on Friday described US authorities as terrorists, while leading a small rally in the nation's capital to denounce the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, AFP reports.

"We condemn the brutal killing of Osama bin Laden," Sheikh Jamil Yahya shouted from a bullhorn as he began a rally outside the Golden Mosque in central Manila after leading midday prayers.

"America is the number one terrorist in the world. America is the number one enemy of Islam," Yahya said, drawing clenched-fist salutes from his followers who shouted back: "Allahu akbar (God is greater)".

The protest came after US commandos swooped on a compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was hiding and shot him dead before dawn on Monday.

About 70 members of Manila's Islamic minority attempted to march with Yahya to the US embassy after he led several thousand worshippers through midday prayers at the mosque.

But about 40 riot police blocked the protesters two blocks from the US mission, and the group returned to the mosque without incident after a short prayer.

Supporters described the bearded Yahya, who wore a traditional headscarf and dark sunglasses, as a leading proponent of a militant strain of Islam among Filipino Muslim religious leaders.

In his sermon for the midday prayers, Yahya did not mention bin Laden or the United States, instead focusing on Philippine government corruption.

After the prayers, in the mosque courtyard he called through his bullhorn on all the faithful to join the march to the US embassy.

But the vast majority ignored his invitation, among them Abdul Maksood Dalupang, who runs a library in southern Manila.

"Our religion teaches us to be pleasant, tolerant and forgiving," he told reporters when asked why he did not join the protest.

"The prophet Mohammed did not preach extremism.

"In case there is a jihad (holy war), Muslims are not allowed to kill the innocent, the women and children, nor should they destroy infrastructure."

Muslims make up the largest minority in the largely Roman Catholic Philippines, which is troubled by a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency in the south of the country that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The Abu Sayyaf, a small group of Islamist militants allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda, also operates in the south.

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