Singapore's Inter-Religious Organisation, faith groups and leaders condemn Christchurch terror attack

At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured in what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was a well-planned terror attack, forcing the government to place the country on its highest security threat level.
At least 49 people were killed and dozens injured in what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was a well-planned terror attack, forcing the government to place the country on its highest security threat level.PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - The Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), several faith groups and national leaders have strongly condemned the terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday (March 15) that killed at least 49 people and injured dozens more.

The IRO, which has leaders of 10 main religions in its ranks, said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened" by the shootings and "strongly condemns all heinous acts of terror".

It added that it "is especially alarmed that recent murderous acts have occurred at holy places of worship", citing the attack in October last year by a gunman on members of a synagogue in Pittsburgh in the United States.

"The IRO prays that local communities strengthen their bonds and interfaith understanding and categorically reject all hateful acts that seek to spark division and hate between people of different races and religions," it said.

"We pray for peace and harmony to be restored in affected places and around the world."

The 10 religions represented in the IRO are the Bahai faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.

Various religious groups, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and both Deputy PMs posted their condolences on Facebook.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation said it was "deeply saddened by the loss of so many innocent lives". "We pray for the speedy recovery of the victims and restoration of peace and harmony," it added.

The Taoist Federation (Singapore) said: "We pray for the departed souls and the families of the victims. Our thoughts continue to be with them during this difficult time of loss. We also pray for peace and harmony to be restored in affected places and around the world.

The Catholic Church in Singapore said in a statement that it "stands together with the Muslim community here and all peace-loving people to reject the violence in today's attacks on two mosques in New Zealand".

"We are deeply saddened by the carnage," it said. "We must also never take religious harmony for granted but always inculcate in our people the importance of being sensitive in their words and actions in our relations with people of other faiths."

"It is also important that we must sow the right seeds especially among our young in all forms teaching them tolerance, mutual respect and appreciation of other faiths," it added. "We must be watchful that we do not allow any organization or social media or any form of entertainment to sow seeds of hatred, violence and rebellion."


Meanwhile, the Alliance of Pentecostal-Charismatic Churches of Singapore called the shootings "nothing short of barbaric and inhumane".

"We condemn these senseless acts of violence and stand together with our Muslim community in this time," said its chairman, Rev Dominic Yeo. "In such tumultuous times, it's important for leaders of religious groups to continue to be advocates for unity and harmony, to guard and strengthen the peace we have as a nation in Singapore."

Senior pastor from Cornerstone Community Church Yang Tuck Yoong also sent his condolences in a letter to Singapore's top Muslim leader, Mufti Fatris Bakaram.

"It is never acceptable to use violence against any group because of their faith and ethnicity," Mr Yang wrote in the letter, which he shared on the church's Facebook page.

"These are uncertain times which calls for people of all faiths to be more deliberate in extending care and sensitivity towards one another. We must not allow this to divide our communities."

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a Facebook post that "Muis and Singaporean Muslims stand together with the rest of society in condemning these atrocious acts of terror".

"We call for all Singaporeans to be resilient and to stay united, as we reject the extremist ideas which were behind the attacks and which must never take root in Singapore. We pray for the survivors and the families of the victims to be given strength in these trying times," it added.

The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) said it "strongly condemns and denounces this heinous act of terror in a centre of worship and refuge". "The killing of an innocent soul is equivalent to an attack against humanity as mentioned in our faith," Pergas said, expressing its deepest condolences and heartfelt prayers for the families of the victims.

Singapore leaders call for unity

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that he was "deeply shocked by the horrific terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch".

"New Zealand is far away from the upheavals and turbulence of the Middle East, and far away from South-east Asia and its terrorist groups, yet it experienced this attack. It is a sombre reminder that terrorism remains a serious threat across the world, and that Singapore must be constantly vigilant and prepared," he said.

"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," he added. "Singapore stands in solidarity with the people of New Zealand to strongly condemn such vicious acts of terror."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Facebook: "We continue to face the threat of terrorism and radicalisation in Singapore. Each of us can play a part to pre-empt and prevent such attacks in Singapore by remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activities to the authorities promptly."

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also said on Facebook of the attacks: "Each time this happens, it is an attack on all of us, on every society that believes in diversity and tolerance. Extremism, of every stripe, has to be resisted everywhere."