Divisive religious teachers: Govt should make the call

The Home Affairs Ministry and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), should be commended for their firm action against the American Muslim preacher Yusuf Estes (Preacher had expressed unacceptable views: MHA; Dec 2).

The preacher was denied entry into Singapore for having expressed views the authorities say are "unacceptable" and "contrary" to the values of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society.

I do not agree with Professor Sattar Bawany, one of the passengers on board the same cruise as the preacher, who said: "Mr Estes was entering Singapore as a tourist, not a speaker.

"The Government should exercise flexibility to allow such preachers to pass through.

"As adults, we should be discerning enough to weed out any teachings that are divisive... The choice should be left to us."

While Professor Sattar may be discerning, not everyone is.

When it comes to people of deep faith, there are many who will faithfully accept what preachers or faith-connected reverential figures preach or convey to them.

Prof Bawany's point that "the choice should be left to us" is misleading.

MHA does not act without thinking and without consulting Muis.

If there are discerning adults and religious authorities we need to trust, we should choose to trust the adults in MHA and the religious figures in Muis.

Lim Ang Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Divisive religious teachers: Govt should make the call'. Print Edition | Subscribe