Look beyond religion, race in showing care to others: Masagos Zulkifli

Such a culture can help prevent violent acts like the NZ massacre, he says

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern embracing a woman during a meeting with members of the Muslim community at the Canterbury Refugee Centre on Saturday, in the wake of the mass shootings. PHOTO: DPA

Singaporeans should look beyond race and religion in showing love and care to others, which can help prevent "disastrous and violent acts" like the terror attack in New Zealand from happening here, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said yesterday.

"We have to go beyond. We have to make sure that our care and love is regardless of whatever creed or race we belong to. And in making that our habit and culture, we will build a community of care, love and harmony; and we will prevent such disastrous and violent acts from happening among us," said Mr Masagos, referring to last Friday's terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Projek Ihsan, a donation drive at Tampines West Community Club that aims to collect Hari Raya apparel and accessories for families in need.

The items will be distributed at the same venue over two days in May - first to underprivileged Muslim families living in Tampines, and subsequently to beneficiaries of any race and from any part of Singapore.

Stressing the need not to take for granted the peace and harmony in Singapore, Mr Masagos, who is an MP for Tampines GRC, said: "Work that we are doing today for example - where the Muslim community gives away their pre-loved items that they used in the last Hari Raya for everyone to benefit - is just the first step for them to show their care."

The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) said in a statement on Saturday that the incident was a reminder to people of different religious and racial communities that they should get to know one another on a personal level.


We have to go beyond. We have to make sure that our care and love is regardless of whatever creed or race we belong to.


This would help dispel harmful stereotypes that may lead to exclusion, discrimination and outright violence, it added.

Muslim charity organisation Jamiyah Singapore said in a statement yesterday that the gunman "deserves universal condemnation from all of us, whatever our race, nationality and religion", for targeting innocent people at the mosques.

"The regular occurrence of these hate crimes in recent times must jolt us to accept the reality that terrorism has no religion," it added.

With Islamophobia prevalent worldwide, the organisation also encouraged Muslims to demonstrate what true Islam is in their conduct, even when confronted with the injustices of such terror acts.

The two groups joined a list of religious organisations in Singapore that have strongly condemned the Christchurch shootings and urged people of different religions to stand united against such acts.


Singapore leaders have also been extending their condolences to New Zealand. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, in a Facebook post, on Friday: "This heinous act is an attempt to spread fear and hatred, and create divisions within societies. We need to respond with unity, fortitude and resilience."

Projek Ihsan will be holding a second donation drive at Tampines West from May 6 to 17, where people can also drop off food, drinks and other household items.

In its third year, this initiative aims to benefit 5,000 people, up from about 1,000 in 2017.

Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, added: "This is a sign that we care for reusing and recycling, and making sure that whatever resources we have, we keep in the community and let other people benefit too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2019, with the headline 'Look beyond religion, race in showing care to others: Masagos'. Subscribe