SINGAPORE: Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim on Saturday (Mar 4) called for peace and unity in the Muslim community after a "storm" of emotions was whipped up over a video of an imam making remarks purportedly against Christians and Jews. The imam is under police investigation for the incident.
It came to light after a video was posted to Facebook, showing the imam making the remarks during one of his Friday sermons in January. The video has sparked heated debate - with some criticising the poster for uploading the video after tipping off authorities, and others praising him for his actions.
In a Facebook post, Dr Yaacob said the issue has generated many reactions both online and offline, and urged members of the public to take a step back and reflect.
He said while it is "correct to whistle blow when one sees wrongdoing, one must also ask whether the manner in which it is carried out is appropriate".
"On such sensitive matters it would be better to go to the authorities in the first instance, rather than online."
He added: "Let us leave this case in the good hands of our police."
In the wake of the incident, Mufti Fatris Bakaram had said in a statement posted to Facebook that the debates surrounding the issue had made him "concerned and uncomfortable".
In a post on Saturday evening, the mufti elaborated on his decision to take his Facebook page offline. "My words which are generic in nature have been misused to show as if I'm biased in that incident, and that is not my goal," he wrote. "Thus before Maghrib yesterday afternoon, I decided to stay back for a while from Facebook. I intend to return after authorities have completed their investigations regarding this case and notified the public."
He added that speculation around his decision was not true, and his goal was to find peace in the middle of chaos before rejoining the conversation, when the atmosphere permits.
Dr Yaacob's Facebook post is reproduced in full below:
This has been a challenging week for our community. A whistle blower posted a video of an imam praying against the Jews and Christians. It sparked a storm.
There is no space in Singapore for extremism or exclusivism because we uphold values of mutual respect and harmony. We utterly reject any speech or actions that foster ill will between communities. This is the Singapore way.
This issue has generated many emotions both online and offline. Many in our community felt angry, because they believe that the postings could be used to cast aspersions on Islam and the asatizah in our mosques. While I understand these concerns, let us take a step back and reflect. If one of us, a preacher or otherwise, has the crossed the line, he or she must be taken to task. This has been done in other cases involving other religious groups which have crossed the line. There cannot be double standards when we deal with issues that touch on race and religious harmony.
While it is correct to whistle blow when one sees wrongdoing, one must also ask whether the manner in which this is done is appropriate, or if it sows more discord and causes tension in our society. On such sensitive matters it would be better to go to the authorities in the first instance, rather than online.
Minister Shanmugam said in Parliament that Police will investigate the conduct of all involved in this case. MUIS is assisting our Police in their work. Let us leave this case in the good hands of our Police.
Our Mufti Fatris Bakaram himself decided to take his Facebook page offline last night to pause and reflect because he too saw how emotions were being whipped up, and in his wisdom, decided he needed to cool things down. Let us heed his call for peace, and for us all to stay united.