No religion to blame for violence: Faith groups

Office workers crossing a road at Robinson Road.
Office workers crossing a road at Robinson Road. PHOTO: ST FILE

Religious leaders from the various faiths in Singapore yesterday condemned the Paris attacks and offered prayers for the victims.

They said such acts of violence were a crime against humanity and cannot be justified by any religion.

They added that Singaporeans should not take harmony for granted, and must keep building bonds with people of other faiths to deepen trust in a multireligious society.

Mr Foo Check Woo, president of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), said members attending a talk at its headquarters prayed for the victims and quick recovery of those injured. "The IRO condemns the terrorist attacks," he added.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said the Singapore Muslim community is deeply saddened by the loss of many innocent lives: "Muis expresses its sympathy for those affected by the tragedy and hopes that security and peace in France will prevail."

Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram extended thoughts and commiserations for victims' families, and prayed that they have the courage to get through the tragedy.

Ustaz Mohamed Ali, vice-chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), which counsels terror detainees and counters radical ideology, said such terror acts "would never be justified by Islam".

"The Quran says life is sacred: If you kill one life, it is like you killed the whole of humanity," he added.

However, as the threat of extremism will be around for a while, with militant group ISIS trying to persuade youth that its actions are sound, Dr Mohamed said: "We need to continually educate the community that ISIS ideology is not based on Islamic principles."

The phrase "Terrorism Has No Religion" trended globally on Twitter, with users saying no religion can be blamed for the attacks, as some online have suggested.

Reverend Kang Ho Soon, a pastor at Trinity Methodist Church, believes most Singaporeans will not associate such attacks with Islam.

"We see again and again that terrorist attacks cannot be identified with religious groups," he said. "Islam is a religion of peace. But every religion will have people who take it in a destructive way."

He said Christians, too, could do more for religious harmony: "We must move beyond tolerance to genuine respect for other religions."

Singapore Buddhist Federation president Seck Kwang Phing said such terror attacks go against the teachings of all religions.

He urged Singaporeans to "see each other as equals, and respect others' cultures and beliefs".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'No religion to blame for violence: Faith groups'. Print Edition | Subscribe