MARAWI, Philippines (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Muslim man in the Philippines is being hailed as a hero for reportedly hiding 64 Christians in his home while Islamic militants were hunting them.
Noor Lucman, a Muslim who lives in Marawi, the capital city of about 200,000 people on the Philippine island of Mindanao, gave shelter to Christians who were working near his home in the days leading up the militants' takeover of the majority Muslim city on May 22.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the province the following day and dispatched the military to wrest control away from the fighters, known as the Maute group. They have allegedly aligned themselves with ISIS in the Middle East. The people were blocked from leaving the city except for those being evacuated by the Philippine Army.
Church Militant reported earlier that Fr. Chito Suganob had been kidnapped and held hostage by militants along with over 240 other Christians.
After Lucman had fled the city, he told journalists the Christians "couldn't leave the city, so I had to take responsibility in protecting them."
"The following days, other Christian workers took refuge in my house. There were about 64 of them in my hands and I was very determined that nothing happens to them," adding that militants would only get to them "over [his] dead body."
"When ISIS came, they recognized me and they showed respect by just leaving when I told them to leave." He continued, "They didn't know I was hiding Christians. If they knew that there were Christians in my house, they would all be beheaded and executed."
Philippine authorities are reporting that so far 30 civilians and 38 military personnel have been killed in the attempt to liberate the city. Over 120 militants have been killed and over 1,200 civilians have been rescued from the area by the military.
Over 120,000 Filipinos have been killed by Islamic violence since the 1970's