Dr Yaacob welcomes PERGAS’ statement on hijab issue

Dr Yaacob welcomes PERGAS’ statement on hijab issue
Minister-In-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim. File photo: MediaCorp
Minister praises group’s leadership for “guiding our community to remain calm”
Published: 10:04 PM, November 8, 2013
Updated: 8:00 AM, November 10, 2013

SINGAPORE — Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim today (Nov 8) said he welcomes Islamic non-governmental organisation PERGAS’ commitment to work together and find “practical solutions” for the hijab issue.

In a Facebook post, Dr Yaacob commended PERGAS’s leadership for “adopting a rational approach and guiding our community to remain calm”.

“I’m glad that we agreed at the dialogue to move forward on this issue with goodwill and understanding the importance of balancing the diverse needs in our multi-racial and multi-religious society,” he said.

According to Dr Yaacob, he met with several other Malay PAP MP colleagues, PERGAS leaders and representatives along with key Muslim community leaders for a dialogue. Other Muslim groups such as MUIS, Mendaki, PPIS, PERDAUS, Jamiyah, Darul Arqam, AMP, LBKM, 4PM, Muhammadiyah Association and FIM were also represented in the meeting.

Dr Yaacob said that community leaders will continue to play a part in reinforcing the message and he promised to personally “pay close attention to the hijab issue”.

The hijab issue has been ongoing since September, sparked when a polytechnic lecturer asked during a forum on race why nurses were barred from wearing the Muslim headscarf and sparked a debate on whether front-line officers should be allowed to.

On Nov 6, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had weighed in on the hijab issue, stating that while the Government understands “community perspectives”, it also “has the responsibility to balance all these different community requirements and keep in mind what we need, to maintain overall social harmony”.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had also met with Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim and other Malay People’s Action Party MPs to discuss the hijab issue earlier this week.

The Workers’ Party has also called for “open-minded” discussions, where chiefs of uniformed professions should also give their views on whether it is feasible for their Muslim employees to wear head scarves while on duty.