Manila, July 7 (IANS) Police in a region in the Philippines are considering issuing mandatory identification cards to thousands of Muslims living there, a proposal rights activists have condemned as “collective punishment”, the media reported on Friday.
Authorities in Central Luzon were quoted in local media as saying the policy was a counter-terrorism measure after Islamist militants took over the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao, reports the Guardian.
The issue was discussed at a meeting between police, military and political figures and about 200 Muslim religious and community leaders at the provincial capitol building, according to news outlet Rappler.
Chief Superintendent Aaron Aquino said the ID cards would allow authorities to identify and weed out undesirable individuals and terrorists.
Aquino said the system had already been implemented in the town of Paniqui “and we want this to be replicated in all Muslim communities in the whole region for easy and efficient identification of our Muslim brothers and sisters”.
Government forces have been hammering Marawi for nearly two months after local militant factions, who claim allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), rampaged through and took control.
Human Rights Watch said authorities were threatening to “single out Muslims” with ID cards, violating the rights to equal protection of the law and freedom of movement, the Guardian reported.
“Requiring Muslim-only IDs in response to a perceived failure of Muslims to prevent Islamist fighters from entering Marawi City is a form of collective punishment,” the advocacy group said in a statement.
“ID requirements for Muslims should be rejected outright,” it added.