SINGAPORE, May 25 — A Singapore group of Islamic scholars and teachers called on Muslims to reject people like Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad Batubara, who they said possessed and propagated views “opposed to the Islamic and universal values of humanity, mercy and unconditional love to others”.

In a Facebook post yesterday (May 24), the Religious Rehabilitation Group responded with “deep embarrassment and utmost regret” over Somad, calling Muslims to reject preachers or others with such views as “Muslims support the truth, whatever the source may be and they reject falsehood, whomever the origin”.

The voluntary group comprises of Islamic scholars and teachers in Singapore, with the aim to counter the ideological misunderstanding of radicalised individuals through counselling.

The preacher Somad, 44, was denied entry into Singapore on May 16. He later claimed on social media that he had been kept in a 1m by 2m immigration detention room before being “deported” from Singapore.

Since then, some of his followers have also publicly threatened on social media to physically attack Singapore, with one calling for it to be done in a manner similar to the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam had on Monday said that the authorities have known of Somad’s teachings for some time and stressed that the authorities' decision to bar entry to Mr Somad was not directed at any specific individual, religion or nationality.

“I have said this on many occasions — we take a zero-tolerance approach and even-handed approach towards any form of hate speech and divisive ideologies,” Shanmugam said. “Our position applies equally to all.” He also revealed on Monday that a 17-year-old boy who had watched videos of Somad’s teachings was detained under the Internal Security Act in January 2020.

Yesterday, the Religious Rehabilitation Group said that by suggesting a parallel between prophetic wars with suicide bombings, Somad showed a severe lack of understanding the principles and tenets of wars in Islam.

“By degrading the places, ways or instruments of worship of others, he has breached the foundational principle of interfaith relations and dialogue in Islam — respect,” said the group in its Facebook post.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said last week that Somad was denied entry because he was “known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society”.

Indonesia's Ambassador to Singapore, Suryo Pratomo, has since clarified that the 44-year-old preacher was not deported.

The Religious Rehabilitation Group said yesterday that it backs the Singapore Government’s position that divisive and segregationist views have no place in this country.

Interfaith relations are built upon similarities and appreciation of differences, it stressed.

“We regard harmonious and cohesive life in a multi-racial society a key part of living in Singapore. Let us preserve this stability and not let any divisive statements be a setback to the harmonious preservation of faith and humanity that we all work for,” said the group. ― TODAY