Sunday 16 September 2012

Singapore condemns violence in Libya and offensive film

By Sharon See, Channel NewsAsia, 15 Sep 2012

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singaporeans should continue to live peacefully and harmoniously together to build a strong society.

He said the film that denigrates Islam and the violence that it sparked off were both wrong.

Mr Lee was speaking to Ang Mo Kio residents at a Hari Raya celebration held at the Teck Ghee Community Club on Saturday.

Aidilfitri is a celebration that marks the end of the fasting month, Ramadan, for Muslims.

Mr Lee said he is glad to see many non-Muslim residents present at the celebration as their presence shows the spirit of unity and harmony amongst the different races in Singapore.

He said this is something precious and difficult to achieve and which Singapore must maintain and uphold at all costs.

Mr Lee said: "It doesn't matter what happens elsewhere in the world. People may have crazy movies scolding, denigrating the Prophet. People may have riots, killings as a result of the movies. Both are wrong.

"But those are other people's quarrels, which are not our quarrels. We should continue living peacefully and harmoniously together amongst ourselves and nurture and preserve our harmony, and that way we can build a strong society."

Singapore condemns violence in Libya and offensive film
By Dylan Loh, Channel NewsAsia, 14 Sep 2012

Singapore has condemned the violent attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US diplomatic staff on September 11.

Singapore expressed its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of the victims in their time of grief.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the properties of foreign diplomatic missions and safety of foreign diplomatic staff should always be protected and guaranteed under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The MFA spokesman said Singapore also strongly condemns the video, "Innocence of Muslims", which denigrates Islam.

He added that the video is highly offensive to Muslims and Singapore deplores the actions of the makers of this insensitive video.

Freedom of speech, he said, must be balanced with respect for religious sensitivities.

At the same time, extreme acts by individuals should be dealt with in a calm and rational manner, and can never provide the excuse for any acts of violence.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a statement that freedom of expression does not give the right to insult another person's religion.

He said this freedom must be safeguarded through mutual respect of the views and beliefs and others.

Mr Teo added that responding to the film with violence is wrong and counter-productive, and expressed confidence that Singaporeans will react to the video in the same rational and calm manner as they had done previously.

In Singapore, leaders from various religious groups have come out in solidarity, stating their intention to preserve the state of harmony in the country despite what is happening overseas.

Lim Kay Tham, general-secretary of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, said: "We are quite united in disapproving such actions that offend the sensitivity of followers of another faith. Such action does not contribute to harmonious living and certainly does not generate more understanding."

Habib Hassan Al-Attas, head of the Baalwie Mosque, said: "Many Muslims and many friends whom I've met are very upset when they heard about the film. But they are more upset when they heard about the killing of the ambassador."

Google curbs S'pore access to anti-Islam YouTube clip
By Jennani Durai, The Straits Times, 21 Sep 2012

GOOGLE has blocked online access here to an inflammatory anti-Islam video clip, after a request from the Singapore authorities.

The Internet giant agreed to restrict access to the 13-minute clip of the film Innocence Of Muslims on its video-sharing portal YouTube, saying it breached its community guidelines.

"Where we have launched YouTube locally and we are notified that a video is illegal in that country, we will restrict access to it after a thorough review," said a Google spokesman.

Yesterday, attempts to access the clip on YouTube resulted in a message saying: "This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request. Sorry about that."

The Media Development Authority said on Wednesday it had asked Google to restrict access after it was informed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that the video contains material that incites "religious hatred, strife or intolerance", and was therefore in breach of Singapore's laws.

The clip, believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christians based in the United States, mocks Prophet Muhammad.

"The continued circulation of this film is likely to cause disharmony or feelings of ill will between different groups in Singapore," it added.

Any act which promotes disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will between religious or racial groups is an offence under Section 298A of the Penal Code.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) yesterday issued a statement to convey its appreciation of the authorities' move to curb access to the clip.

"We deeply appreciate the action of the Singapore Government. We note that Google has responded and taken action to block access to the video in Singapore," said Muis president Alami Musa.

"While Singaporeans of all faiths and persuasions have reacted to the episode calmly, we are heartened by the reaffirmation that the Government placed on harmonious religious relations through this action."

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