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Singapore’s decision to deny entry to preacher an important lesson for Indonesia in prohibiting radical views: Indonesia anti-terror agency

 Singapore’s decision to deny entry to preacher an important lesson for Indonesia in prohibiting radical views: Indonesia anti-terror agency
A photo of Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who was denied entry into Singapore on May 16, 2022. (Photo: Instagram/ustadzadbdulsomad_official)

JAKARTA: Singapore’s decision to deny entry to Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara is an important lesson for Indonesia to take precautions in prohibiting radical views, said a senior official with the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) on Wednesday (May 18). 

Somad arrived at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on May 16 but was denied entry and sent back to Batam on the same day. 

Responding to CNA’s queries, Brigadier General Ahmad Nurwahid, who is the director overseeing terror prevention in BNPT, said that Singapore’s decision was because it is clear that exclusive, intolerant lectures, attitudes and views are the basic ingredients for radicalism.

“I see this as an important lesson for Indonesia to also take precautions from upstream by prohibiting radical views, understandings and ideologies that can lead to acts of terror and violence,” he said. 

He noted that Singapore’s policies in this area are preventive and based on early anticipation of potential threats.

“This is done because Singapore has a regulatory basis called the ISA (Internal Security Act) which includes the prohibition of ideology, views and understanding of radicalism that leads to acts of terrorism.”

The Brigadier General added: “The government, including BNPT, respects every policy taken by other countries. There is no attempt to intervene regarding the rejection of the arrival of preacher Abdul Somad and his entourage.”

On Tuesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that Somad, who arrived in Singapore on May 16, was denied entry and sent back to Batam on the same day with six other people who travelled with him.

All of them, who had arrived at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, were placed on a ferry back to Batam.

Somad has been known to preach "extremist and segregationist" teachings, which are "unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society", MHA said in a statement. 

"For example, Somad has preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and are considered 'martyrdom' operations.

"He has also made comments denigrating members of other faith communities, such as Christians, by describing the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an 'infidel jinn (spirit/demon)'," said MHA.

Somad has also publicly referred to non-Muslims as “kafirs”, or infidels, added MHA.

The statement added: "While Somad had attempted to enter Singapore ostensibly for a social visit, the Singapore Government takes a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings.”

On Wednesday, Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that the social media accounts of a number of political officials and government agencies have been spammed by Somad’s supporters.

“Organisations are advised to take active steps to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, heighten vigilance, and bolster their online defences to protect their organisation against possible cyberattacks, such as web defacement and distributed denial of service,” the MCI spokesperson added.

Source: CNA/ks(aw)

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