Sin­ga­pore bans for­eign Is­lamic preach­ers on re­li­gious cruises

Preach­ers ac­cused of pro­mot­ing dishar­mony, seg­re­ga­tion

Kuwait Times - - International -

SIN­GA­PORE: Sin­ga­pore has barred two for­eign Is­lamic preach­ers from en­ter­ing the coun­try to preach dur­ing re­li­gious-themed sea cruises, the in­te­rior min­istry said yes­ter­day. The pair had ear­lier ap­plied to preach in the city-state but their ap­pli­ca­tions were re­jected. How­ever au­thor­i­ties later learned they planned to preach aboard cruise ships in late Novem­ber. “They will not be al­lowed to get around the ban by preach­ing in­stead on cruise ships which op­er­ate to and from Sin­ga­pore,” the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs said. One of the preach­ers, Is­mail Menk, “has been known to preach seg­re­ga­tion­ist and divisive teach­ings” while the other, Haslin bin Ba­harim, “has ex­pressed views that pro­mote dishar­mony be­tween Mus­lims and non-Mus­lims”, it said with­out giv­ing their na­tion­al­i­ties.

Sin­ga­pore also yes­ter­day banned four for­eign Is­lamic books con­tain­ing what it called “un­de­sir­able and harm­ful teach­ings”. The in­for­ma­tion min­istry said the books’ teach­ings “can cause so­cial dis­tanc­ing, dis­trust, ha­tred and even vi­o­lence among peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths and re­li­gious views” in the eth­ni­cally di­verse na­tion. Posses­sion, dis­tri­bu­tion and fail­ure to sur­ren­der copies of the books to the po­lice will be an of­fence ef­fec­tive to­day, it said. “The threat of ex­trem­ism is real and should not be taken lightly,” said In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter Yaa­cob Ibrahim. “The gov­ern­ment strongly con­demns the use of such publications to es­pouse de­struc­tive ide­olo­gies and pro­mote en­mity be­tween com­mu­ni­ties.” The books were pub­lished in In­done­sia be­tween 2011 and 2016. Sin­ga­pore’s move comes amid at­tempts by the Is­lamic State (IS) group to es­tab­lish a base in South­east Asia. IS-backed mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing sev­eral for­eign fight­ers, seized the south­ern Philip­pine city of Marawi in May as part of plans to es­tab­lish a caliphate, spark­ing a bloody five-month cam­paign by Filipino troops to dis­lodge them.

The top US com­man­der in the Pa­cific, Ad­mi­ral Harry Har­ris, ear­lier this month warned against the threat posed by South­east­ern Asian mil­i­tants re­turn­ing to the re­gion as IS loses ground in Iraq, Syria and Libya. “For­eign fight­ers are pass­ing their ide­ol­ogy, re­sources and meth­ods to lo­cal, home­grown, next-gen­er­a­tion rad­i­cals,” Har­ris had said in a speech in Sin­ga­pore. “So we must stop ISIS at the front end and not at the back end when the threat can be­come even more dan­ger­ous,” he said, us­ing an­other name for IS. Sin­ga­pore in 2001 ar­rested sev­eral sus­pected mil­i­tants and foiled a plot to bomb sev­eral for­eign tar­gets in the coun­try, in­clud­ing the US em­bassy.

Is­lamic State group tar­gets South­east Asia

—AFP

SIN­GA­PORE: A Cruise ship is docked at the Ma­rina Bay cruise cen­tre ter­mi­nal in Sin­ga­pore yes­ter­day.

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