Two Christian preachers barred from Singapore for religious hate speech
Singapore government has decided to execute stronger policy on hate speech against other religions. Recently, it was reported that two foreign Christian preachers had their applications to speak in Singapore rejected, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated on Friday, as the preachers had made “denigrating and inflammatory comments of other religions”. Their negative religious comments had consequently affected their application grant.
Reports confirmed that, as part of the test process, they were required to have a Miscellaneous Work Pass (MWP) to preach in Singapore. In its media release, MHA said that the decision to reject the applications was made by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in consultation with MHA on the case that hate speech against other religions could be heard during the test process.
In addition, minister of Home and Affairs, Mr Shanmugam stated that he does not usually combine the words “Islam” and “terrorism”, as terrorism can exist in any religion, every religion should be accorded the same rights:
“Just as I have banned Muslim scholars or preachers from coming into Singapore, the most recent banning has been as regards to Christian preachers. They were very Islamophobic in their statements outside of Singapore and we decided that we will ban them.”
He added that talks that are against other religions are unacceptable in the country. He further stated that its unacceptability is a way to harmonize and socialise all religions:
“Such teachings are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial, multi-religious society, and the Government will not allow religious preachers of any faith to run down other religions or spread ill-will among the religions.This is to safeguard the social harmony and cohesion that have been painstakingly built up since Singapore’s independence.”
Further more, Mr Shanmugam also said that Singapore was looking to strengthen the Maintenance of the Religious Harmony Act (MRHA):
“Singapore’s approach to social inclusion was fundamental and central to the DNA and the thinking and workings of the Government for the last 50 years. We know that if we do not get this right, nothing else will go right.”
Mr Shanmugam further said that religion and politics are not expected to be jointly practiced by anyone. If you must be a cleric, you have to stick to it:
“We have now seen what can happen with clerics all over the world and how, when they move in the political sphere wearing their robes, it becomes very dangerous of any religion. We do not allow that in Singapore … You stick to religion, you do not get involved in the sphere of politics.”
The country has been reported to be working really hard to harmonize all the existing religions in the country by outrightly kicking against hate speeches that could cause conflicts amongst them. This serious kick against hate speeches will go a long way to unify all religions and races in the country.