Shanmugam: Won’t tolerate preaching that sows ill will against religions

Hannah Teoh
A screenshot of the imam at Masjid Jamae (Chulia) who allegedly made the comments against Jews and Christians (Facebook: A Muslim Convert Once More).

Singapore will not tolerate preaching that encourages violence against any religion, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in Parliament on Friday (3 March).

Shanmugam was responding to questions by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Christopher de Souza and Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam about a preacher who allegedly spoke out against Jews and Christians recently.

On Tuesday (28 February), the police confirmed that a police report was made over the imam’s alleged remarks, which he supposedly made during his Friday sermons on 6 January and 24 February this year at Masjid Jamae (Chulia Mosque).

A video was posted on the ‘A Muslim Convert Once More’ Facebook page on 24 February claiming to show the imam making those remarks in Arabic on 6 January. The man who made the post, Terence Nunis, felt that the imam’s comments were “unbecoming”.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) was aware of the case and told The Straits Times that the imam has been placed on leave while investigations were in progress.

Shanmugam told the House that authorities will know the context of what the imam said once the investigations are over. The minister said that the imam was reported to have quoted a verse from the Koran and he seemed to have said, “God grant us victory over Jews and Christians” and repeated the comment.

“We will not tolerate any religious preaching that encourages violence or seeks to pit one religion against another. If the imam had not made any inflammatory suggestion, no action will be taken and we will issue a public statement.

“But if he indeed made such suggestions or had engaged in such preaching, then some appropriate action will be taken,” Shanmugam said.

The minister also said that the government has taken a strict position when Muslims have been attacked, and that people have been charged and sent to jail for doing so. He cited an example of a Christian couple who were sent to jail for distributing a publication that cast Islam in a negative light, and stressed that the position applies to any other religions.

Shanmugam also spoke about NUS academic, Khairudin Aljunied, who has criticised the individual who highlighted about the imam’s comments. The academic has encouraged vilification of that individual and suggested that there was nothing wrong with what the imam had said, Shanmgam added.

“Mr Khairuddin’s position and actions are quite unacceptable. He has jumped into this without verifying the facts and without checking the context and supports a position that is quite contrary to the norms, values and laws in Singapore,” Shanmugam said.

The police will look into the issue and the conduct of everyone involved thoroughly, the minister added.