Call for all to work together to counter extremist ideology

Call for all to work together to counter extremist ideology
MP Fatimah Lateef penning a message for victims of recent tragedies around the world. With her are (front row, from left) Mr Abdul Halim Kader of community group Taman Bacaan; Ms Puan Nooraishah Md Salim, wife of Singapore’s first president Yusof Ishak; Khadijah Mosque chairman Ali Mohamed; Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association council president Mohamad Hasbi Hassan; (back row, from second from right) Mr Jaspal Singh of the Pardesi Khalsa Dharmak Diwan Sikh temple; Venerable Fa Qing of the Sagaramudra Buddhist Society; and Ms Ng Siew Lam from the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle Geylang Serai.

SINGAPORE - A hush fell across Khadijah Mosque in Singapore yesterday as 5,000 congregants observed a minute's silence.

On their minds were the victims of recent events that had punctured peace and stability, such as the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash, the Sydney siege, the Pakistan school attack and last week's Paris shootings.

The shootings sparked fears of anti-Islamic sentiment, and were condemned by Muslim religious leaders around the world.

At yesterday's remembrance ceremony, held in conjunction with the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday, religious and community leaders in Singapore called on Muslims and non-Muslims to work together to counter extremist ideology.

Dr Mohamed Ali, a cleric with the Geylang Serai mosque and the Religious Rehabilitation Group, said this would ensure that everyone has the correct understanding of Islam, and not just Muslims. He added: "We invite non-Muslims to participate in our activities so that they understand Islam actually preaches a message of peace."

At yesterday's celebration, representatives from 30 organisations around Geylang, such as temples and clan associations, were present.

Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, who was the guest of honour at the event, said such interaction can help different groups understand one another's sensibilities and practices.

"This is really about building a network of understanding and trust in peace times, so that whenever there are crises that happen, we can all work together and we will not have misperceptions about each other and about each other's practices and religion," she told reporters on the sidelines of the event held in her Geylang Serai ward.

A religious leader from the Pardesi Khalsa Dharmak Diwan Sikh temple, across the road from the mosque, agreed.

Mr Jaspal Singh said such activities can strengthen ties among religious leaders and ensure there are open channels of communication.

"It's easier to prevent misunderstandings when we can just pick up the phone and speak to each other because a certain level of friendship and understanding has been built," he said.

"It's when we don't express ourselves, or explain why we have certain practices, that people don't have a factual idea of the religion, and misconceptions can arise."

This article was first published on Jan 12, 2015.
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