Parliament: Singapore is not immune to Islamophobia, says K. Shanmugam

Besides Islamophobia, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam highlighted the need to prevent religious extremism and segregationist teachings from taking root here.
Besides Islamophobia, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam highlighted the need to prevent religious extremism and segregationist teachings from taking root here.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LIVESTREAM

SINGAPORE - Shortly after it was reported that a Singaporean woman was detained for radicalism last June, an Indian man scolded a Muslim woman on a bus, singling her out as she was donning a tudung.

He told her that Muslims "should stay in Iraq as they did not know the value (of) staying in Singapore".

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told this story during the debate on his ministry's budget on Friday (March 2) to emphasise that Singapore is not immune to Islamophobia, though noting that "so far, these incidents have been few and far between".

Mr Shanmugam, who is also the Law Minister, added: "Singapore must not allow the threat of terrorism to breed fear, suspicion and distrust of each other."

MHA has been contacted for more information about Islamophobia cases.

Besides Islamophobia, Mr Shanmugam highlighted the need to prevent religious extremism and segregationist teachings from taking root here.

Citing the banning of four foreign preachers - two Muslims and two Christians - from entering Singapore last year, Mr Shanmugam said preachers who espoused "violence, or spread ill-will towards other religions whether in Singapore or elsewhere" will not be allowed to speak here.

Mr Shanmugam also addressed criticism that the Government "overreacted" in banning the Muslim preachers, Mr Ismail Menk and Mr Haslin Baharim, last October.

 

He said Mr Ismail Menk's teachings, in particular, were divisive, and the decision to ban them were "carefully considered".

Said Mr Shanmugam: "We must preserve the harmony we have and to do this, we must not let extremist or segregationist teachings infiltrate our communities. Even a small number of persons propagating radical, or segregationist beliefs can be dangerous."

He said the inflammatory and viral potential of such messages is increased with social media, a point also raised by Mr Chong Kee Hiong (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).

"It is challenging, but we work closely with community groups and religious organisations to better inoculate our community from such influences," he said.