Mosque incident a chance to learn: Yaacob

Forging a strong and cohesive society in Singapore will always be a work in progress, and there may be mistakes along the way, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

Citing a recent incident at a mosque that was deemed inappropriate, he said such mistakes should be taken as learning opportunities and should not deter people from trying to do better.

He was referring to criticism levelled at Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands, which held a luncheon and performances for seniors from three nursing homes on Feb 24 to celebrate Chinese New Year. During the performances of traditional music and songs, there was an impromptu dance demonstration. Netizens later said this was inappropriate in a mosque setting.

The mosque issued a statement on its Facebook page a few days later to clarify that the event was held in the basement carpark, and apologised for the dance segment. It said the event was aimed at strengthening cultural ties among the various races.

Dr Yaacob said the mosque has pledged to do things in a more tactful way in future.

Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram also gave them encouragement, "because caring for the underprivileged, regardless of race or religion, is a key value of Islam", said Dr Yaacob.

Speaking at a seminar by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, he added that the Muslim community is fortunate to enjoy good relations with other communities in Singapore, and should continue to work on strengthening this cohesion.

"Sometimes mistakes are made. But we should not be disheartened, and certainly we should not stop trying," he said.

Joanna Seow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 08, 2018, with the headline 'Mosque incident a chance to learn: Yaacob'. Print Edition | Subscribe