A prominent Muslim preacher from Indonesia has been denied entry to Singapore over extremist teachings, officials said, sparking criticism from a top Islamic body in his homeland.
Singapore is majority ethnic Chinese but also home to several minority groups, including Muslims, and authorities take a hard line against anyone they believe could inflame tensions between different communities.
Abdul Somad Batubara arrived in Singapore on Monday along with six travel companions on a ferry from the neighboring Indonesian island of Batam.
But the group was denied entry after officials interviewed Somad, and sent back to Batam on the same day.
“Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society,” the interior ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.
He sought to legitimize suicide bombings in his preachings, and also publicly referred to non-Muslims as infidels, the ministry said.
“While Somad had attempted to enter Singapore ostensibly for a social visit, the Singapore government takes a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings,” it added.
Somad — who has a large social media following in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country — said on YouTube that officials gave him no explanation as to why he was denied entry.
“You have to explain to our communities, why did your country, why did your government reject us?” he said.
Indonesia’s Ulema Council, the country’s top Muslim clerical body, reacted angrily to the incident.
“What is it with Singapore? Did he ever hurt Singapore? I don’t think so,” Sudarnoto Abdul Hakim, a council official, told CNN Indonesia.
The Indonesian embassy in Singapore has also contacted the city-state’s foreign ministry to seek further details.