Religious leaders condemn terror acts

Leaders and representatives from all major faiths in Singapore congregate for a silent prayer during A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflections on Nov 29, 2015.
Leaders and representatives from all major faiths in Singapore congregate for a silent prayer during A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflections on Nov 29, 2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Religious and community leaders from 50 organisations gathered at the Grand Park City Hall hotel yesterday to collectively condemn recent acts of terror around the world.

A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflections united people across the 10 main faiths in Singapore, and included the Inter-Religious Organisation.

After the Nov 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, several Muslim community leaders decided to hold an event bringing different groups together.

Imam Habib Hassan al-Attas of the Ba'Alwie Mosque, which was a key initiator of the event, said many people are blaming Islam for terror attacks.

"We need to clarify that there are no religions, especially Islam, that condone the killing of innocent people," he said.

COMMON STAND AGAINST TERROR

We need to clarify that there are no religions, especially Islam, that condone the killing of innocent people.

IMAM HABIB HASSAN AL-ATTAS, of the Ba'Alwie Mosque

Mr Noor Marican, president of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said: "We are part of society and we've come to reaffirm that point."

He said that the community cannot just keep quiet about the terrorist threat because silence can be misunderstood.

Leaders and members of the groups signed a declaration against acts of terror, reiterating that "such atrocities are neither humane nor justified, and hold no place in any religion".

The declaration was then presented to French Ambassador to Singapore Benjamin Dubertret. There was also an inter-faith silent prayer for terrorism victims.

Bishop Terry Kee, vice-president of the National Council of Churches, said: "There are opportunities to self-radicalise now with social media, and it can happen to any religion. What is important is the official position of various religions."

He added that friendship and engagement between different groups can help people understand that radical thinking is not part of a particular religion's teachings.

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, guest of honour at the event, reiterated the importance of the community in the face of the terrorist threat and called for a strong network of trust among racial and religious communities.

"We cannot allow mistrust and enmity to be sown among us, which would play to the objectives of the terrorists," he said.

He added that as people are confronted with complex landscapes and different choices, spiritual leaders' roles are more important than ever, to provide a strong moral compass.

"While we may not be immune to terrorism, we have the resolve to face and overcome the threat," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Religious leaders condemn terror acts'. Print Edition | Subscribe