About 300 protesters managed to sneak into several secondary roads leading to Manila’s Roxas Boulevard, but failed to reach the front of the heavily guarded US embassy. Image Credit: AFP

Manila: Hundreds of Filipino-Muslims held a protest rally in front of the US embassy in Manila, calling for a total ban on the controversial anti-Islam film.

Filipino-Muslim leaders in southern Philippines asked the Supreme Court on Monday to compel the Philippine government to stop the screening of the film entitled Innocence of Muslims.

About 300 protesters managed to sneak on several side roads leading to Manila’s Roxas Boulevard but they failed to reach the front of the heavily guarded US Embassy, a radio report said.

Instead, the protesters raised high several placards, one of which said, “Freedom of religion prevails over freedom of expression”.

“American leaders should categorically ask for the total ban of the film on the internet. Their failure to do so means “double standard” on the part of authorities when it comes to protecting Muslim sentiment,” said Agakhan Sharief, a leader of the protesters.

All Filipino-Muslims are against the advocacy of the film which maligned Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), said Sharief.

Muslims have been holding global protest rallies in 20 countries, which resulted in the death of more than 50 people, since excerpts of the controversial film were posted by Google’s YouTube.

“We are representing all Filipino-Muslims nationwide,” said Congressmen Pangalian Balindong and Tupay Loong of of Lanao del Norte and Sulu respectively when they filed their motion at the Supreme Court.

Balindong is a member of the Liberal Party which is led by President Benigno Aquino.

“Destroying somebody else’s religion is not freedom of expression but freedom of assassination. The film has assassinated the character of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH),” argued Alonto.

“Islam for us Muslims, is not only a religion. Islam is a way of life, Islam is our life,” Alonto said.

“By refusing to block this despicable film on YouTube, it appears that President Aquino would risk giving more priority to the ‘freedom of expression’ of the alien, monstrous mind that created the film rather than advance the cause of national reconciliation and peace between Muslims and Christians...” said a group called Piso (Philippine currency) for Mohammad (PBUH), adding that Filipino-Muslims raised money in mosques for the docket fee needed by those to file the appeal to the Supreme Court.

The group also accused Aquino of double standards and cited his order last August 2011 to close an art exhibit at Manila’s Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) after Christian protesters accused artists of allegedly maligning Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary by using condoms and phallic symbols on their portraits.

The closure order came after 30 students from the University of Santo Tomas, the country’s oldest Catholic school, staged a protest rally against the art exhibit.