SINGAPORE - Police have asked American preacher Lou Engle, who is alleged to have made anti-Muslim statements at an event here last month, to come back to Singapore for an interview.
A statement on Wednesday (April 4) said that Mr Engle, who spoke at the Kingdom Invasion Conference 2018, had left Singapore shortly after the event ended.
"The police have requested him to come back to Singapore for an interview," the Singapore Police Force said, adding that it was unable to comment further as investigations are ongoing.
It is not known if Mr Engle, 65, intends to comply with the request.
At the heart of the controversy are comments the preacher allegedly made at the Christian conference. According to a March 25 report from online media outfit Rice, Mr Engle had told the conference, organised by Singapore's Cornerstone Community Church, that "Muslims are taking over the south of Spain" and that he had dreamt he would "raise up the church all over Spain to push back a new modern Muslim movement".
After the report, MHA said it was investigating the incident and would take "firm action" if it was found that he had in fact made statements undermining religious harmony.
On Wednesday night, Cornerstone co-founder and senior pastor Yang Tuck Yoong met Mufti Mohd Fatris Bakaram and Muslim community leaders at the Singapore Islamic Hub and apologised to the Muslim community for the comments made by Mr Engle.
He added that the preacher will not be invited for future events and that the church was unaware of Mr Engle's controversial past.
In 2011, Mr Engle - who had once accused Muslims of "fueling the demonic realm" - organised a 24-hour long event in Detroit, where more than 20,000 attendees prayed for Muslims to convert to Christianity. A year earlier, he had also expressed support for a bill in Uganda that called for homosexuals to be jailed or killed.
"When we invited him, we invited him to teach on prayer and fasting. We did not know he had made such remarks, because (these remarks were made) quite some time ago," Mr Yang said to the media after the meeting.
Mr Yang said the church had not done its due diligence and would be more stringent in researching the background of potential speakers.
He added that in a phone call last Friday, he had told Mr Engle that he had caused "a lot of problems" and that he would not be able to speak in Singapore in the future.
"He (Lou Engle) had accepted it," he said.
Apart from the apology in person by Mr Yang, the website of the Kingdom Invasion conference also featured a full-screen letter of apology from the Cornerstone pastor on Wednesday.
"As a church, we do not condone any speech or actions that foster ill will between communities and remain committed to upholding the peace and harmony we enjoy as a nation," wrote Mr Yang in the letter.
Dr Fatris told the media that the Muslim leaders had accepted Pastor Yang's apology.
He added he was glad that both Muslims and non-Muslims were measured in their reactions and did not express their anger in a destructive manner.
"We want to move on and look forward to a more constructive and healthy relationships," he said.
In a Facebook post, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said he appreciated that Pastor Yang had taken responsibility for inviting Mr Engle.
"Words matter, and words that sow discord and ill will among the various communities have no place in Singapore," he said, adding that people here should "continue to uphold mutual respect and harmony for our common good".
In September last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that it had rejected work passes for two foreign Christian preachers who had made denigrating and inflammatory comments on other religions.
The following month, three foreign Muslim preachers - who were scheduled to speak on a cruise going from Singapore to Aceh - were also banned.