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 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.”
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".