SINGAPORE — Supporters of an Indonesian preacher who was barred from entry into Singapore had made threatening remarks against the city-state by referring to the 9/11 attacks in the US, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Monday (23 May).
According to a report by CNA, Shanmugam told reporters that a threat on Instagram had labelled Singapore as an “Islamophobic country” and demanded that its leaders apologise to Muslims and Indonesians within 48 hours.
The Instagram user threatened to deploy troops from the hardline Islamic Defenders Front from Indonesia to attack Singapore "like 9/11 in New York 2001” and expel Singapore’s ambassador to Indonesia if their demands were not met.
Shanmugam’s comments come after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said last Tuesday that Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara and his six travel companions were denied entry into Singapore a day earlier.
The seven had arrived at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Somad was interviewed, after which the group was denied entry into Singapore and placed on a ferry back to Batam on the same day, MHA said, in response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore.
“Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society,” MHA added.
The move sparked protests by members of various Indonesian Islamic groups at the Singapore embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore consulate-general in Medan last Friday.
“Parallels are being drawn with 9/11, parallels are being drawn with Singaporeans being led by non-Islamic leaders and that Singapore should be attacked, Singaporean interests should be attacked. So I wouldn't be dismissive of the comments,” said Shanmugam, according to the CNA report.
The matter has also led to more publicity for the preacher with a large following, Shanmugam noted. “He’s making maximum use of the publicity and he (is) now, in my view, engaging in more publicity stunts.”
The preacher had also commented in a YouTube video that he would not give up trying to visit Singapore, saying that Singapore is a Malay country similar to his home province of Riau.
“We are not a separate country from his perspective and many of his supporters, mostly in Indonesia, have been riled up. They say Singapore is being, I quote, disrespectful towards Muslims and Islamic religious scholars,” said Shanmugam.
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