Religious and political leaders in Singapore have denounced as "barbaric" the series of terror attacks in this holy month of Ramadan, saying they show how terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have completely perverted the teachings of Islam.
The fact that most of the attacks were in Muslim-majority nations and at holy Islamic sites has also laid bare the terrorists' lies that they commit such atrocities in the name of Islam, they added.
"The attacks on Muslim-majority cities and countries, claiming lives of Muslims... confirm that their heinous acts are against Islam and do not represent Muslims all over the world," said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.
"I strongly condemn such barbaric acts," added Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also used strong words to condemn Monday's terror attacks in three places in Saudi Arabia: Jeddah, Qatif and Medina.
EVIL ATTACKS AGAINST HUMANITY
These vile attacks were caused by misguided people who commit atrocities and violence blemishing the name of Islam, a religion that places great emphasis on the sanctity of human lives... The fact that the attacks took place during Ramadan... shows clearly these attacks have nothing to do with Islam. These are outrageous and evil attacks against humanity.
DR MOHAMED FATRIS BAKARAM, Mufti of Singapore.
GRIM REMINDER TO STAY ALERT
Another grim reminder for all of us to stay alert, stay united and stay safe. Our condolences to all the victims and their families.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN
SYMPATHY FOR THE VICTIMS
My heart bleeds for the defenceless innocents and their families. They were slaughtered by these outlaws who have a perverse and contorted understanding of religion.
MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
DISRESPECT TO THE PROPHET
ISIS might think it is religiously motivated. But the Prophet never did this. He was the ultimate promoter of peace and always called for us to respect everyone. It is disrespect to our Prophet.
USTAZ MOHAMMED SUHAIMI MOHAMED FAUZI, executive imam of Al-Istighfar Mosque.
The attack in Medina is particularly heinous as it is near the Prophet's Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, the ministry said. "Such acts of violence show that terrorism knows no boundaries."
Some of the attacks also took place in Malaysia and Indonesia. In Indonesia, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the police headquarters in Solo yesterday morning, while in Malaysia a grenade was lobbed into a pub in Selangor last week.
Scores were killed within a week in a terror attack on a cafe in Dhaka in Bangladesh popular with expatriates, as well as in suicide bombings in Iraq and at an airport in Turkey.
Ramadan is viewed by Muslims as a period of charity and compassion, but groups such as ISIS have twisted its purpose, noted Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam. "ISIS sees Ramadan as an opportune time to take away innocent lives, declaring that they would make it 'a month of pain for infidels everywhere'," he said.
ISIS has claimed credit or been linked to many of the attacks.
Terror experts such as Dr Rohan Gunaratna said ISIS has amplified its guerilla operations as coalition forces have shrunk its territory.
"The last two years, they were focused on building their so-called caliphate, but now they can't do it because they're being attacked," said Dr Gunaratna. "So they transform their capabilities into attacking their enemies, and mounting attacks in peripheral countries."
The surge during Ramadan is because ISIS had instilled in its followers the warped belief that striking in the holy month will bring them bigger rewards from God, he added.
ISIS' interpretation of Ramadan as "a month of jihad against its enemies" is a total misrepresentation, as this is when Muslims do jihad of the self, struggling against their desires and refraining from food and drink, said Dr Mohamed Ali, vice- chairman of the Religious Rehabilitation Group. "These acts of indiscriminate killing are absolutely against the teachings of Islam."
Muslims like businessman Rushdy Hakam, 30, worry the attacks nearby may spill over into Singapore. "On Hari Raya, we congregate in mosques in the morning and later, with the family. It's mind-numbing to think something may happen."
But Singapore's Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram urged Muslims to remember the good deeds of individuals and their community.
People of different faiths have also gathered with Muslims to break fast, strengthening their bonds.
"This is the embodiment of the teachings of Islam and all religions. This is the spirit we should continue to harness to help further strengthen us as a society," said Dr Fatris.
•Additional reporting by Charissa Yong and Muneerah Razak.