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Arroyo thanks God for Muslim-Christian interfaith dialogue

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday credited the interfaith dialogue being promoted by the government and religious leaders for preventing violent protests and escalation of the outrage of Filipino Muslims over what they said were blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as published by a Danish newspaper. The President pointed out that the Philippines has been spearheading interfaith dialogues in the international community and pushing for its institutionalization in the United Nations. "That controversy has been happening in other countries but in our country what is prevailing is interfaith dialogue and interfaith understanding. In fact our Bishop-Ulama Forum has been a great help in our peace process (in Mindanao)," Arroyo said. "That's why we thank God that there is understanding among religious groups in our country," she said. She said the Philippines also successfully sponsored a resolution before the UN Security Council to promote interfaith dialogue as a means to prevent religious extremism. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier said the government does not believe that protest actions in the Philippines over drawings of Prophet Muhammad would escalate into violence as Filipinos generally treat their Muslim brothers with "fairness and respect." "In the Philippines we treat our Muslim brothers with fairness and we wouldn't wish to exacerbate any outrage on that caricature but you can be sure that our Muslim brothers understand that the national leadership and the entire Filipino nation, our people, are with our Muslim brothers as part of the Filipino community," Ermita said. He said Filipino Muslims are generally peaceful and they "will not think of anything adverse against government." He said there were news reports about the caricatures and Filipino Muslims could see that the local media have not given it much prominence. The cartoons were published by a newspaper in Denmark. "They (Filipino Muslims) know that we consider them as being part of all of us," Ermita said. He said the National Capital Region police office already have contingency plans to protect foreign embassies but expressed confidence that violent protest actions are unlikely.-GMANEWS.TV