Philippines wants to put southern Muslim region’s halal cuisine on global culinary map

Philippines wants to put southern Muslim region’s halal cuisine on global culinary map
Servers place Mindanao dishes on the table for guests at an event hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism to promote halal food from the region in Makati City. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 November 2023
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Philippines wants to put southern Muslim region’s halal cuisine on global culinary map

Philippines wants to put southern Muslim region’s halal cuisine on global culinary map
  • Philippines positions itself as a Muslim-friendly destination to revive post-pandemic tourism
  • Halal food from Mindanao is ‘celebration of the Filipino narrative,’ official says

MANILA: The Philippines wants to promote halal cuisine from Mindanao and put the island on the global culinary map, a tourism official said on Monday as efforts are underway to attract more Muslim travelers from around the globe to the region.  

Tourism is a key sector of the economy for the Philippines, an archipelagic country known for its white sand beaches and beautiful diving spots, with the sector contributing nearly 13 percent, or about $44 billion, of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019.  

After the global travel industry ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Manila expanded its tourism goals to revive the sector and began to position itself as a Muslim-friendly destination.  

“We are promoting Filipino halal food, specifically Muslim Mindanao food, because we want more people to go to Mindanao,” Myra Paz Abubakar, the Department of Tourism undersecretary for Muslim affairs, told Arab News on Monday. 

The southern island of Mindanao is one of the few regions with a sizeable Muslim population in the Philippines, a minority group that makes up around 6 percent of the country’s 110 million predominantly Catholic population. Many Muslim communities also reside in the Sulu archipelago and the central-western province of Palawan. 

“Apart from world-class destinations, Mindanao also boasts of world-class cuisine that cannot be found anywhere else. World-class because it is built off of centuries upon centuries of Islamic history, evolving from family to family, generation to generation,” she said.  

“Muslim Mindanao food is a celebration of the Filipino narrative, showcasing each and every vibrant color of Mindanao.”  

The Department of Tourism hosted an event last week in Makati City to promote Mindanao cuisine, which was attended by envoys from various countries and served halal dishes made by Muslim chefs.  

The menu included the kinilaw, a Philippine take on the ceviche consisting of scallops, sea urchin and Spanish mackerel, and dinilutan a seda, a grilled swordfish with coconut and lime dressing from Maguindanao province, among other delicacies from the region.

For some guests, the culinary introduction was impressive.  

“It was amazing. I totally enjoyed the culinary delights, the flavors of Mindanao … I really felt as if I’m in Mindanao tasting the flavors,” Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino told reporters.

The Philippine Secretary of Tourism Christina Frasco encouraged travelers to explore Mindanao at the event, hoping that the meal had given people “more reasons to love the Philippines.”  

She said: “May the culinary delights of Mindanao that mirror that region’s diverse, vibrant, and brimming with heritage, encourage all of you to … visit Mindanao and to savor Muslim Mindanao’s varied tourism offerings.” 

The Department of Tourism’s Abubakar said her office will continue efforts to attract international Muslim travelers.  

“As much as possible, we really would like to push for halal tourism,” she said. “It has always been my wish for the Middle East market … to come to the Philippines and visit us.”  


Crowd in Pakistan kills man accused of burning Qur'an: police

Security personnel stand guard in Peshawar on January 30, 2023. (AFP file photo)
Security personnel stand guard in Peshawar on January 30, 2023. (AFP file photo)
Updated 7 sec ago
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Crowd in Pakistan kills man accused of burning Qur'an: police

Security personnel stand guard in Peshawar on January 30, 2023. (AFP file photo)
  • Blasphemy is a highly sensitive subject in majority Muslim Pakistan, where even accusations without evidence can stir up anger among crowds and spark outbreaks of violence

PESHAWAR: A Pakistani man accused of desecrating the Qur'an was slain and burned Thursday by a crowd that removed him from a police station where he had been detained for his protection, authorities said.
“On the evening of the 20th, locals in the Madian area detained a man, alleging he had burned the Qur'an. The police intervened, rescued him, and took him to the local police station,” a police source in Swat told AFP, noting the man was not from the area.
But the crowd, urged on by local mosques, converged on the police station and pelted it with stones.
“To disperse the angry mob, police fired warning shots into the air, which further incited the crowd. The mob overpowered the police, dragged the man out, and beat him to death with sticks,” the source said.
Later, some people poured oil on his body and set it ablaze, the source added.
A local official confirmed the incident, saying: “After killing the man, the enraged protesters started stoning the police, forcing them to abandon the station.
The situation in the area remained tense, with protesters blocking the main road, according to the official.
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive subject in majority Muslim Pakistan, where even accusations without evidence can stir up anger among crowds and spark outbreaks of violence.
In late May, a Christian accused of burning pages of the Qur'an was also lynched by a mob in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab region, before succumbing to his injuries in early June, according to police.
Also in Punjab, in February 2023, a crowd beat to death a Muslim accused of having desecrated the holy book.
 

 


Campaigners urge UN rights chief to act on China Xinjiang abuse report

Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021.
Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021.
Updated 19 min 12 sec ago
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Campaigners urge UN rights chief to act on China Xinjiang abuse report

Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021.
  • The August 2022 report, produced under the leadership of the last commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may be an international crime

GENEVA: Campaign groups called on the United Nations human rights chief on Thursday to take more action over what they said were documented abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
The groups, including the World Uyghur Congress and Amnesty International said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk had not followed up on a 2022 report by his own predecessor that found China may have committed crimes against humanity.
China defended its record and dismissed the groups’ statement given at a meeting in the Geneva headquarters of the UN Human Rights Council.
Volker did not attend the meeting and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. After taking office in October 2022, the Austrian former lawyer said he stood by the report and wanted to engage China over the findings.
The August 2022 report, produced under the leadership of the last commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may be an international crime.
China has repeatedly denied accusations of abuses in its northwest Xinjiang region.
Just before Turk took office, mostly non-Western members of the Rights Council voted down a motion brought by the US, Britain and other mostly Western powers to hold a debate about the report — a result that was seen as a diplomatic victory for Beijing.
“To date there has been no action, no meaningful action,” Zumretay Arkin, a spokesperson for the World Uyghur Congress, told Thursday’s meeting. “We are here to remind everyone ... that impunity cannot be the solution.”
The campaign groups, also including Human Rights Watch and the International Service for Human Rights, translated the 2022 report into five languages, published them and called for Turk to give an update on how his office and China had responded to the report’s recommendations.
China’s attache at its mission in Geneva, Zhu Kexing, told the session: “In order to discredit China and hinder China’s development, a small number of NGOs and Western countries do not hesitate to act as liars and rumor-makers to serve their anti-China separatist plots.”
Several countries including the United States and Australia also voiced concerns about the lack of follow-up on the 2022 report but stopped short of giving specific recommendations on how Turk’s office should react.

 


US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software

US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software
Updated 26 min 53 sec ago
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US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software

US bans Russia’s Kaspersky anti-virus software

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky from providing its popular anti-virus products in the country, the US Commerce Department announced.
“Kaspersky will generally no longer be able to, among other activities, sell its software within the United States or provide updates to software already in use,” the Commerce Department said in a statement announcing the action, which it said is the first of its kind.
 

 


Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily

Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily
Updated 34 min 42 sec ago
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Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily

Russians report some outages on bank apps after cyberattack, says Kommersant daily

MOSCOW: Russians on Thursday reported some problems with processing payments at major banks after a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Russian banks, Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported.
At least one Russian bank was telling clients that it was having trouble sending messages containing codes to confirm payments, a Reuters reporter said.
The Kommersant newspaper said Russians had reported problems using the websites of major banks, as well as with the Telegram messaging app and with major mobile phone networks.
It cited Russia’s payments cards operator as saying that the disruption had been short-lived and that the fast payments system was now working as usual.
The IT army of Ukraine, a group of volunteers committed to disrupting Russian digital communications, later issued a statement saying it was responsible the Russian bank outages.


US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden

US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden
Updated 44 min 21 sec ago
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US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden

US philanthropist Melinda French Gates endorses Biden
  • French Gates announced in May that she would be using her $12.5 billion fortune to help “women and families,” making a first payment of $1 billion

WASHINGTON: American philanthropist Melinda French Gates, the ex-wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, endorsed President Joe Biden on Thursday for November’s US election, arguing that he is the best candidate for women.
“I’ve never endorsed a presidential candidate before. But this year’s election stands to be so enormously consequential for women and families that, this time, I can’t stay quiet,” she said on X.
“Women deserve a leader who cares about the issues they face and is committed to protecting their safety, their health, their economic power, their reproductive rights, and their ability to freely and fully participate in a functioning democracy.”
French Gates, who recently stepped down as president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the contrast between Biden and his Republican opponent Donald Trump “couldn’t be greater, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
“I will be voting for President Biden,” she concluded.
Reproductive rights have been an effective political cudgel for Democrats in the two years since the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion a constitutionally protected right.
A comfortable majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases, according to extensive polling, and around half of states have measures in place to protect access.
The issue has been a major theme of the election campaign, with Biden supporting women’s right to choose and Trump failing to stake out a clear-cut position beyond pride in appointing three of the justices who struck down Roe v Wade.
French Gates announced in May that she would be using her $12.5 billion fortune to help “women and families,” making a first payment of $1 billion.
She said the Supreme Court ruling on abortion had prompted her to devote herself to defending women’s rights.