Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte joked that he will offer “42 virgins” to tourists visiting his country. President Duterte was referencing the ISIS recruitment method, where the jihadi militants are promised that there will be 72 virgins waiting for them when they die in the holy war.
President Duterte made this statement during his recent trip to India, where he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the relationship between the two nations. Later, while speaking with the press, he spoke about his country’s battle with ISIS and the latter’s defeat in 2016. President Duterte claimed that the ideology driving ISIS has only one objective, which is to kill and destroy, before making the joke about the latter’s recruitment strategy, Daily Mail reports.
“It’s an ideology that is totally bankrupt, totally empty and the only objectives there are to kill and destroy for nothing, for no reason at all. And the come-on is that if you die a martyr, you go to heaven with 42 virgins waiting for you. Well, if I could just make it a come-on also for those who would like to go to my country.
“And I said one of the most is promising virgins when you go to heaven. I’d like to have the virgins here not in heaven. God may not allow it.”
President Duterte is well known for his extremely vocal attitude and straightforwardness when speaking in public or to the press. He has repeatedly used profanity and made inappropriate jokes in the past, many times on camera. Many have criticized the president’s ways while others support him, saying that it portrays the man’s honesty and his touch with the common folk.
Back in 2016, the Philippines had to deal with an attack by an ISIS-affiliated group. The group seized the city of Marawi for five months before being defeated by the Philippine army. The city was liberated in October 2016 following a 148-day occupation. A total of 1,189 people lost their lives in the battle. Among them was Hapilon, the person who had declared himself the Emir of ISIS in the Philippines.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with over 80 percent of the population identifying as Catholics and a Protestant population of around 10 percent. Islam is a minority religion with around 5 percent of the country practicing it. For many years, there had been speculation that Islamic extremism was taking root in the impoverished Muslim communities of the country and the government had been underestimating its severity. This changed in 2016 when the attack happened.
Violence erupted when government officials attempted to capture the leader Isnilon Hapilon. Following this, hundreds of foreign and local fighters joined in on the seize of the city. During this period, they torched government buildings, captured hostages, and patrolled the streets with ISIS flags. This was the Philippines’ biggest internal security crisis in years.