Muslims 'emerge stronger from Gaza crisis'

Muslims 'emerge stronger from Gaza crisis'
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs (centre), was among some 5,000 people gathered at Sultan Mosque yesterday for Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers.

The Muslim community has been affected by the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, but it has also come out stronger, said Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

He was speaking to reporters after Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers yesterday at Sultan Mosque in Muscat Street, where he also launched the mosque's upgrading project.

"I know that our community is affected, especially for this event to take place during the month of Ramadan," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip to halt rocket fire from Hamas Islamists.

But the ongoing conflict has also become an opportunity for Muslims to gather and pray for peace in the region, he said. "All in all, I think this has affected us, but we have come out stronger."

Dr Yaacob was among some 5,000 people gathered at the mosque to listen to the sermon delivered by Singapore's highest Islamic authority, Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram.

Delivering his sermon in Malay, Dr Fatris urged Muslims to be "mindful and concerned" about the Middle East conflict. He called on them to remember that "Islam is a religion of peace" and that it condemns violence.

After the hour-long prayers, Dr Yaacob officiated at the launch of Sultan Mosque's upgrading.

As announced earlier in February, two lifts will be added to make it more convenient for worshippers to access the higher floors. New and more spacious ablution areas will be added, the domes will be repaired and refurbished and the entire mosque will get a fresh coat of paint.

Sultan Mosque, considered by many people as the national mosque, was built 190 years ago in 1824 and gazetted as a national monument in 1975. The project is expected to cost $3.45 million and be completed by end-2015. The mosque will remain open to worshippers during renovation.

This article was first published on July 29, 2014.
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