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Religious rehab group denounces Indonesian preacher, urges Muslims to reject views opposed to Islamic values

SINGAPORE — A Singapore group of Islamic scholars and teachers called on Muslims to reject people like Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who they said possessed and propagated views "opposed to the Islamic and universal values of humanity, mercy and unconditional love to others".

Religious rehab group denounces Indonesian preacher, urges Muslims to reject views opposed to Islamic values

Mr Abdul Somad Batubara (pictured), 44, was denied entry into Singapore on May 16, 2022.

SINGAPORE — A Singapore group of Islamic scholars and teachers called on Muslims to reject people like Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who they said possessed and propagated views "opposed to the Islamic and universal values of humanity, mercy and unconditional love to others".

In a Facebook post on Tuesday (May 24), the Religious Rehabilitation Group responded with "deep embarrassment and utmost regret" over Mr Somad, calling on Muslims to reject preachers or others with such views as "Muslims support the truth, whatever the source may be, and they reject falsehood, whomever the origin".

The voluntary group comprises Islamic scholars and teachers in Singapore, with the aim to counter the ideological misunderstanding of radicalised individuals through counselling.

The preacher Somad, 44, was denied entry into Singapore on May 16. He later claimed on social media that he had been kept in a 1m by 2m immigration detention room before being "deported" from Singapore.

Since then, some of his followers have publicly threatened on social media to physically attack Singapore, with one calling for it to be done in a manner similar to the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had on Monday said that the authorities have known of Mr Somad’s teachings for some time and stressed that the authorities' decision to bar entry to Mr Somad was not directed at any specific individual, religion or nationality.

"I have said this on many occasions — we take a zero-tolerance approach and even-handed approach towards any form of hate speech and divisive ideologies," Mr Shanmugam said. "Our position applies equally to all."

He also revealed on Monday that a 17-year-old boy who had watched videos of Mr Somad’s teachings was detained under the Internal Security Act in January 2020.

On Tuesday, the Religious Rehabilitation Group said that by suggesting a parallel between prophetic wars with suicide bombings, Mr Somad showed a severe lack of understanding of the principles and tenets of wars in Islam.

"By degrading the places, ways or instruments of worship of others, he has breached the foundational principle of interfaith relations and dialogue in Islam — respect," the group said in its Facebook post.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said last week that Mr Somad was denied entry because he was “known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society”.

Mr Suryo Pratomo, Indonesia's Ambassador to Singapore, has since clarified that the 44-year-old preacher was not deported. 

The Religious Rehabilitation Group said on Tuesday that it backs the Singapore Government’s position that divisive and segregationist views have no place in this country.

Interfaith relations are built upon similarities and appreciation of differences, it stressed.

“We regard harmonious and cohesive life in a multi-racial society a key part of living in Singapore. Let us preserve this stability and not let any divisive statements be a setback to the harmonious preservation of faith and humanity that we all work for,” the group said.

Related topics

religious harmony Religious Rehabilitation Group Abdul Somad Batubara preacher Indonesia Muslim MHA

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