‘Arrest of woman should not be used to portray Muslim community in negative light’

The arrest of the first female Singaporean on charges of radicalisation has alarmed citizens. However, the detention of infant-care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari “should not cause the Muslim community to be viewed in a negative light or used to stoke the flames of Islamophobia here,” said National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS).

The actions of a misguided few must never be seen as representing that of the majority of Muslims of Singapore, said NCCS.
The actions of a misguided few must never be seen as representing that of the majority of Muslims of Singapore, said NCCS. Photo courtesy: unirazzi.com

“The Muslim community has contributed significantly to the progress of our nation, and has also done much to strengthen our multiracial and multi-religious community. The actions of a misguided few must never be seen as representing that of the majority of Muslims here,” it said.

NCCS communicated this through a letter addressed to the Mufti of Singapore Fatris Bakaram and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). It was signed by NCCS president Rennis Ponniah and general secretary Ngoei Foong Nghian. NCCS sad, it was ‘profoundly saddened’ by the news.

Writing on Instagram, Catholic Archbishop William Goh said, “In such times, we should, all the more, stand together as one people, regardless of race or religion, to protect what we have and value – our unity, our freedom, our safety, our loved ones, our home and country. Above all, we must not allow such cases to destroy the trust and confidence which we have painstakingly built up over the years.”

 

Recently, there was news of a female child-care teacher being detained for radicalism. It is not surprising, though saddening, to know that even personnel from our trusted institutions are not immune to the influence of terrorist ideology. In such times, we should, all the more, stand together as one people, regardless of race or religion, to protect what we have and value – our unity, our freedom, our safety, our loved ones, our home and country. Above all, we must not allow such cases to destroy the trust and confidence which we have painstakingly built up over the years. We must resist the temptation to retreat into the safety of our own 'enclave', and treat everyone else with suspicion or, worse still, to label people based on the religion they profess, what they wear or customs they practise. Otherwise we may cause more resentment and unintentionally drive them to feel marginalised or ostracised. The fact is that in all communities, be it religious or secular, even in the family, there will always be some wayward or misguided individuals. We must be able to distinguish these individuals from the rest. Religious leaders, teachers and all those in authority, and that includes parents and supervisors, must be on the watch and guide and form those under their charge in the way of truth, and to promote respect and tolerance for other religions and peoples, and especially to protect those who are naïve and susceptible to extreme fundamentalist views. At the same time, we must all wake up to the fact that we cannot depend on the government alone, or those in authority to ensure our safety. Each of us has a personal responsibility to stay alert, and report anything that is amiss, even if it means surrendering our misguided loved ones, for their good, ours, and the greater good of the community. We cannot pretend to sleep if the boat we are on is heaving in the storm. In this difficult time, let us stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters who seek to do the right thing in promoting peace, mutual respect, non-violence and harmony.

A post shared by Archbishop William Goh (@archie.will) on

He exhorted the society to, “resist the temptation to retreat into the safety of our own ‘enclave’, and treat everyone else with suspicion, or worse still, to label people based on the religion they profess, what they wear, or (the) customs they practise”. This could cause more resentment or feelings of marginalisation, he said.

Goh said, “Religious leaders, teachers and authority figures must be on the watch and guide those under their charge. They also have to protect those susceptible to extreme fundamentalist views.”

He reiterated that Singaporeans also must realise they cannot depend on the Government alone to ensure their safety, and everyone has to be responsible in staying alert and reporting anything that is amiss - “even if it means surrendering our misguided loved ones, for their good, ours, and the greater good of the community".

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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