Muslim, Christian leaders condemn terror plot

Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Singapore met on Thursday to reaffirm the mutual trust and understanding between the two religious communities and condemn the plot by a Protestant Christian youth to attack Muslims at two mosques here.

The meeting was held at the Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands, one of two sites targeted by a 16-year-old Singaporean of Indian ethnicity who was inspired by the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings, a tragedy which claimed 51 lives in New Zealand.

The other site targeted by the youth was the Assyafaah Mosque in Sembawang.

Leaders from the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) met Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, the highest authority on Islam in Singapore, and Mr Esa Masood, who is chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

Also present were the chairmen of the Yusof Ishak Mosque and Assyafaah Mosque as well as Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Faishal Ibrahim.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, the NCCS president, Reverend Keith Lai, said the Christian community was pained by news of the alarming plot.

"We were in shock and disbelief that this could happen, and especially coming from a 16-year-old," he added, noting that "whatever had been planned by this young man is contrary to what our Bible teaches about love and acceptance".

The teenager, who was a secondary school student when he hatched his plan last year, became the youngest detainee under the Internal Security Act after the plot was uncovered.

"This is indeed a wake-up call for us as a community, not just a Christian community but together as a nation, how we can help our young people, and guide them and mentor them in the right way," said Rev Lai.

Dr Nazirudin, who spoke of the mutual respect and friendship between the two religious communities here, thanked the Christian leaders for their reassurances that "no Christian wishes any harm or harbours any ill will or hatred towards Muslims".

"As a community that has often needed to explain itself and what Islam truly represents, we deeply empathise with your shock and anguish that someone who professes the Christian faith seeks to do the very thing that would desecrate it," he added.

Dr Nazirudin said the leaders discussed various steps that could be taken to deepen understanding between the Christian and Muslim communities.

Among other things, they agreed on the need to guide young people from being influenced by extremist ideologies, which can be easily found online.

The Straits Times

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