Two foreign Christian preachers denied entry into Singapore

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam speaking at an Institute of Policy Studies forum on the reserved election. He cited evidence that race is still a factor when Singaporeans vote, making it harder for minority candidates to be elected preside
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam speaking at an Institute of Policy Studies forum on the reserved election. He cited evidence that race is still a factor when Singaporeans vote, making it harder for minority candidates to be elected president.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Two foreign Christian preachers, who applied for short-term work passes to speak in Singapore, have been denied entry.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the reason is that the duo had made "denigrating and inflammatory comments of other religions" in the past.

Its statement came after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam cited the cases at a forum earlier yesterday. Mr Shanmugam said the Government takes "an equal approach" to all religions.

"Just as I have banned Muslim scholars or preachers from coming into Singapore, the most recent banning has been (for) Christian preachers. They were very Islamophobic in their statements outside of Singapore, and we decided we will ban them," he said.

One of the preachers described Allah as "a false god", and called for prayers for those "held captive in the darkness of Islam", MHA said.

He also referred to Buddhists by a Hebrew word - Tohuw - meaning "lost, lifeless, confused and spiritually barren". The Straits Times understands this is American preacher Dutch Sheets.

The other preacher referred to "the evils of Islam" and "the malevolent nature of Islam and Muhammad". He called Islam "not a religion of peace", "an incredibly confused religion", interested in "world domination" and "a religion based on... adhering to uncompromising and cruel laws often focused on warfare and virtual slavery".

Such teachings are unacceptable in multiracial, multi-religious Singapore, said MHA.

Running down of religions or the spreading of ill will among religions is not allowed, so as to safeguard Singapore's social harmony and cohesion, it added.

The two preachers had applied to the Manpower Ministry for their Miscellaneous Work Passes, which are for foreigners who speak at seminars and religious workers.

The granting of such passes is "a privilege accorded to a foreigner and not an entitlement", said MHA.

Mr Shanmugam also said that a review of the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act is under way.

Elgin Toh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'Two foreign Christian preachers denied entry into S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe