SINGAPORE: In the wake of strong sentiments over a video posted on social media of an imam who made remarks purportedly against Christians and Jews, Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam on Saturday (Mar 4) said he is "very heartened" that the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and Muslim leaders have come out to state their position.
Following Mr Shanmugam'sspeech in Parliament on Fridayon the need for firm action against religious preaching that encourages violence or pits one religion against one another, MUIS said: "MUIS appreciates and fully supports the Government’s firm and consistent position in the matter. MUIS shares the view that there can be no room for discourse that promotes intolerance, enmity or violence against other communities."
"The statements show clearly that the Muslim community strongly values our commitment to religious harmony in Singapore," Mr Shanmugam said, in a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday evening.
He added that MUIS and the office of the Mufti are important institutions in Singapore, as they play a "critical role in contributing to the maintenance of religious harmony, as well as building inter-faith relations with other religious groups".
"Regrettably some people have been attacking them – both now and previously. The Mufti himself has been attacked, in rude and unacceptable language," Mr Shanmugam said.
He added that members of the public should not use "rude and abusive language" even if they may not agree with the Mufti or Islamic authorities. "I find that very saddening - kurang ajar (ill-mannered)."
"We are keeping a close watch on people who do these things. If the conduct crosses over and becomes criminal, action will be taken," he said.
The minister said police will investigate the case "thoroughly" and interview all parties involved, including those who filmed and publicised the video.
"Whether there is a case for further action against any of the parties, will depend on the outcome of investigations," he said, adding that the Government does not take sides in the issue.
He also echoed Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim's position, saying the right thing to do when it comes to matters like these is to report it to the police, and not put it on social media.
"That will allow police to focus their investigations on the subject of the complaint," he said. "If instead, the matter is publicly posted, it could lead to a ground swell of feelings, in this case, both from Muslims as well as non-Muslims. It could cause confusion about religion, and increase tensions and so on. We don't want that in Singapore."