Abdul Somad Batubara an Indonesian Islamic preacher and scholar from Asahan, North Sumatra as well as six people who were travelling with him were stopped by Singapore authorities at Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on May 16.
After Somad was denied entry Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the following day that Somad has been known to preach “extremist and segregationist” teachings, which are “unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society”.
In response to the restriction, protests were held at the Singapore embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore consulate-general in Medan on Friday (May 20) by Abdul Somad Batubara’s supporters.
One of his supporters told the local media that “The actions by Singapore suggest that they are openly accusing Somad of being a radical. Somad is accused by Singapore of being a terrorist”.
Some protesters carried banners with messages such as “boycott Singapore products” and “expel Singapore ambassador”.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam Responds
Speaking to the media, Mr Shanmugam mentioned that some supporters of Abdul Somad have made threats against Singapore that linked the 9/11 attacks.
Mentioning one of the comment in social media platform that demanded an apology from Singapore’s leaders, the minister said the threats should not be dismissed.
The Instagram user threatened to expel Singapore’s ambassador to Indonesia and send troops including the Islamic Defenders Front – an Indonesian hardline Islamist organisation – to attack the country “like 9/11 in New York 2001” if their demands were ignored.
Instagram has since removed the post and disabled the account for violating community standards.
Responding to questions from the media about whether Singaporeans should be concerned, Mr Shanmugam said the threats should not be dismissed.
“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,” he said.
“So I wouldn’t be dismissive of the comments.”
17-year-old Detained Under ISA Was Influenced By Somad’s Videos
Minister Shanmugam also revealed that some of the people that the Internal Security Department (ISD) had investigated in Singapore for radicalisation had watched Somad’s videos and followed his preachings.
One of them was a 17-year-old boy who was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in January 2020.
The teenager had watched Somad’s YouTube lectures on suicide bombing, and believed that if he fought for ISIS and was a suicide bomber, he would die a martyr and receive rewards in heaven.
“So you can see, Somad’s preachings have real world consequences,” said Mr Shanmugam.
According to Shanmugam, Somad has claimed that suicide bombings attacks are legitimate, has labelled non-Muslims as infidels, that Muslims should not accept non-Muslims as leaders and that Muslims should conspire to oppress non-Muslims and “slit their throats”.
“Racial, religious harmony, we consider fundamental to our society and most Singaporeans accept that,” Shanmugam told the reports.
Mr Shanmugam said the denial of Somad’s entry into Singapore has given publicity to the Indonesian preacher, who already has a large online following.
“He’s making maximum use of the publicity and he (is) now, in my view, engaging in more publicity stunts,” the minister said.
In a YouTube video posted on May 18, Abdul Somad said he will not give up trying to visit Singapore. He claimed that Singapore was “Malay land” as it was part of the Temasek Malay Kingdom, making Singapore similar to Riau, where he is from.
“We are not a separate country from his perspective and many of his supporters, mostly in Indonesia, have been riled up,” said Mr Shanmugam.
“They say Singapore is being, I quote, disrespectful towards Muslims and Islamic religious scholars,” he added.
“His supporters have called for cyberattacks on Singapore, on Government websites, social media accounts, boycott of Singapore products, and for Indonesians to stop visiting Singapore, all because we exercised our right to deny someone entering into Singapore,” he told the media.
Mr Shanmugam said Somad has publicly promoted extremist “divisive teachings”, including that suicide bombing attacks are “legitimate martyrdom operations”.
Somad has also publicly referred to non-Muslims as kafirs or infidels, and made derogatory and denigrating remarks about Christianity by describing the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an “infidel jinn (spirit/demon)”.
He has even told Muslims not to travel in Red Cross ambulances that have the crucifix symbol. They should also cover up any crucifixes displayed to avoid dying as an “infidel”, and not wish others “Merry Christmas”.
“He has preached that Muslims should not accept non-Muslims as their leaders, given that he says non-Muslims could conspire to oppress Muslims and, I quote, “slit their throats”. You consider that acceptable in Singapore?” Mr Shanmugam said.
DENIED ENTRY IN MANY COUNTRIES
The preacher has previously been denied entry to Hong Kong, Timor Leste, Britain, Germany and Switzerland, the minister added.
Minister pointed out that Singapore takes a “zero tolerance” and “even-handed” approach towards any form of hate speech and divisive ideology.
INDONESIA’s Response :
Mentioning Indonesia’s response Minister Shanmugam said “(The Indonesian government) accepts that it is for Singapore to decide who can come into Singapore, it’s absolutely right just like it is for Indonesia to decide who can go into Indonesia”.
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