Philippines: February 21, 2005

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Fighting Moslem separatists in the south this month has left 30 soldiers and over 40 rebels dead so far. This fighting is the latest violence in several centuries of  battles between Moslem and non-Moslem peoples in the region. The Moslem population in the southern Philippines resent the Christian Filipinos who have been settling in the area for the last century. Another point of conflict is the corruption and lack of jobs in the region. The corruption is a national problem, but was made worse when the government made peace with one group of Moslem separatists in the 1990s, with the promise of economic aid to the south. There was money made available, but most of it was wasted, or stolen, by government officials. These included former Moslem separatist leaders who had been given government jobs. This, in turn, caused Islamic radicalism to become more popular, as many southerners now believed only radical social change could break the cycle of corruption and economic backwardness. But this is only a minority opinion, with most of the Moslem population hostile to Islamic radicalism.

 

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