Fifty youth leaders from Sulu strike a pose with Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya outside the Philippine Embassy on 23 November. The youth are in a four-day educational tour aimed at making them better agents of peace as future leaders in Sulu. (Photo by AW2C Shaira Lariño PAF/4CRG)

CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City—Fifty Muslim youth leaders from Sulu were cautioned against extremism during their four-day tour in Malaysia which started on 23 November 2016.

According to Colonel Edgard A Arevalo, Chief of the Public Affairs Office Armed Forces of the Philippines, the delegates met with Zainal Zainuddin, Executive Director of Global Movement of Moderates in Malaysia, who reminded the young leaders not to take part in extremism and were instead asked to convey coexistence, respect, and tolerance to solve the problem in Sulu.

“Do not get involved in all these. If you do, you will not have a good future,” Zainuddin said after showing a video on the Syrian war that included Malaysians joining the notorious ISIS.

“You have no right to call yourself Muslims if you go into extremism. Make sure that the youth in your communities know of this and make them follow the right path of acceptance and harmony while celebrating differences,” Zainuddin added.

The Muslim youth leaders, all graduates of the National Youth Leadership Summit, were sponsored by the AFP to visit the predominantly Muslim and culturally diverse country of Malaysia to motivate them in becoming advocates of peace.

The participants also met with Philippine Ambassador in Kuala Lumpur J. Eduardo Malaya, who reminded the youth to share the lessons of their tour when they return to their communities.

“Deepen your understanding of Islam, internalize what you will see in Malaysia and share them when you get back to your community. Make sure your country prospers and make things better,” Ambassador Malaya said.

The delegates also visited the Malaysian Parliament and met with Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Ainin bin Haji, who emphasized the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance in Malaysia.

Mohammad-Alib A Amil, the Spokesperson of the delegates, shared his agreement on the state of differences in Malaysia, saying that “even though this country consists of different beliefs, there is no discrimination and respect among other groups exists.”

The delegates rendered Tausug songs Bud Tumantangis and Biraddali to their hosts in appreciation of their warm welcome.

The delegates visited also the Tahfiz School and International Islamic University-Malaysia after which they toured the famous Batu caves. They are scheduled to interact with the Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities and the Union of Muslim Filipino in Malaysia; and visit the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation today.

“We are hopeful that this journey to Malaysia has left an indelible imprint on their hearts and minds; that it had a profound influence on these young men and women from Sulu. I hope they will share this experience to their communities so that their folks may realize that the peace they sought for their province is possible and they must strive harder in order to achieve it,” AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo R Visaya said.