MANILA - Muslims in urban areas may face discrimination after Islamic State-inspired terrorists were tagged in the deadly bombings in Mindanao, a peace-building organization said Friday.
International Alert Philippines Project Officer for Women and Youth Program Nina Bahjin Imlan told ANC's Early Edition that Muslims in cities outside Sulu and Zamboanga, the site of recent bombings of worship sites, would likely experience discrimination.
"That discrimination against Muslims will most likely be felt in urban centers outside of Sulu and Zamboanga," she said.
She said Muslims within the two areas were safe from discrimination "because of the long history of good relations among the peoples of Sulu and Zamboanga."
"The demographics of Sulu have always been a combination of people with different religious and cultural backgrounds. Christians, Muslim, Chinese, Tausugs. These people have never identified themselves according to these divides," she said.
Citing International Alert's findings, Imlan said some Muslims have been "forced to remove their hijabs in schools or in their workplace just to conform to the uniformity" or "change Muslim-sounding names in their resumes just to get a shot at being interviewed or considered for jobs."
Several school administrators and employers do not realize that asking Muslim women to remove their hijabs "are discriminatory acts," she said.
Public and private institutions may help counter the stigma attached to Muslims by holding "anti-discrimination" activities or including inter-religious talks in their curriculum or office policies, she said.
"The hardest part is getting them to empathize with Muslims. They do not empathize because they do not understand," she said.