SINGAPORE - While freedom of speech should be cherished, free speech cannot be used as a cloak to make insensitive and inappropriate remarks about any religion, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said on Friday.
This is especially so in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like Singapore, where there is a need to seek harmony through respect, Mr Chan wrote on his Facebook page.
Commenting on the Paris terror attacks last week when 17 people were killed in three days of violence, he said: "What the attackers did was vicious. We condemn such terrorist acts. Our hearts go out to the French people."
"But we also need to be clear and careful what 'I am Charlie' actually means and what it stands for."
He noted that while many around the world have adopted the slogan and its call for freedom of speech, many others have countered by saying "I am not Charlie".
"They are uncomfortable with the idea of identifying with a group that has been insensitive to the Muslims," he said, a view he said is shared by many Singaporeans, not just in the Malay and Muslim community here..
"We cannot allow such cartoons in Singapore. We must never attack the religious beliefs that people hold dear," he added.
"The racial and religious harmony that we have in Singapore today did not come about overnight. We must never take it for granted."