SINGAPORE — A teenager arrested under the Internal Security Act in 2020 had watched the lectures by an Indonesian preacher who was recently barred from entry into Singapore, said Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Wednesday (1 June).
The 17-year-old believed that suicide bombers are martyrs, said Teo, who was speaking virtually at a retreat organised by the Religious Rehabilitation Group at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa hotel, according to a report by the Straits Times (ST).
The teenager was released in January this year after making good progress on his rehabilitation.
Teo’s comments came two weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara and his six travel companions were denied entry into Singapore on 16 May.
In response to queries from Yahoo News Singapore then, MHA said, “Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
Among other things, the preacher had preached that suicide bombings are “martyrdom” operations that are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, according to MHA.
Dismissing Somad’s allegations of Islamophobia against Singapore, Teo said Singapore has a zero tolerance approach against hate speech, adding that extremist rhetoric can lead to consequences, according to the ST report.
"We need to ensure that our communities are resilient against extremist rhetoric, especially online. Our people, especially the young, must know to seek guidance from credible religious authorities, and to reject extremism and hate speech," he said.
"Singapore takes a zero tolerance approach on hate speech regardless of whether it is a Christian pastor or a Muslim ustaz. Such extremist rhetoric has real world consequences."
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