There is no place for Islamophobia or any similar attitude towards other religions here, as this would harm the social cohesion Singapore has built up over the years, said Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman.
He related a recent incident yesterday to illustrate how Islamophobia has crept into the community, in a climate where acts of terrorism and extremism make headlines regularly.
A few weeks ago, a Malay pest controller checking for mosquitoes outside a home was shooed away by a Chinese resident who suggested he could be a terrorist, said Dr Maliki.
"He tried to explain that he was just trying to do his job, and she (said), 'No, no, no, I hear so much things about terrorism and terrorists, you had better go'," said Dr Maliki, adding that the incident shocked and saddened him.
"The last thing we want are incidents like this where the inter-ethnic cohesion that we have built for so long is divided by people who have the wrong ideas, wrong understanding of the Muslim community," he said.
Dr Maliki, an MP for East Coast GRC, spoke to reporters while distributing Hari Raya hampers containing necessities such as canned food and cooking oil to needy Muslim families in Siglap.
DIVIDED BY WRONG IDEAS
He tried to explain that he was just trying to do his job, and she (said), 'No, no, no, I hear so much things about terrorism and terrorists, you had better go'. The last thing we want are incidents like this where the inter-ethnic cohesion that we have built for so long is divided by people who have the wrong ideas, wrong understanding of the Muslim community.
SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENCE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS MALIKI OSMAN, relating an incident where a Malay pest controller checking for mosquitoes outside a home was shooed away by a resident who suggested that he could be a terrorist.
Political leaders have been warning against allowing anti-Muslim sentiment to take root, as cases of self-radicalised individuals are publicised and the terror threat grows.
At an iftar, or breaking of fast, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore must prevent incidents like a recent attack at a mosque in London - a man drove his van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers, killing one person - from happening.
Yesterday, Dr Maliki urged people who know about incidents of Islamophobia to come forward, as such views cannot be allowed to "take root in the minds of Singaporeans, particularly non-Muslim Singaporeans".
"If these things happen, if (people) hear of such instances, please let us know, so that we can correct misperceptions," he said.
The police are investigating an act of vandalism at the upcoming Marine Parade MRT station, where the word "terrorist" was scrawled on an illustration of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab at the station's construction site.
Dr Maliki added that the Muslim community "totally rejects" notions of extremism, radicalism and terrorism, and he hopes non-Muslims realise this.
He also hopes the non-Muslim community can respond to such incidents by reassuring the Muslim community.
He said: "Instead of having misperceptions, please come forward and also seek clarification so that Islamophobia does not take root in Singapore society."
He added: "We should, in times like this, bond together, close ranks and begin to appreciate one another better."