04/12/2024, 11.57
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Singapore Minister: 'Protect local Jews from the consequences of war'

by Angeline Tan

Shanmugam's statements at an event organised on the eve of Passover. Last month, he had an Israeli embassy post removed from his Facebook page that risked inflaming tensions. 'We are a multicultural place where both Jews and Muslims are an important presence'.  

Singapore (AsiaNews) - Singapore wants to protect and shelter the local Jewish community from the consequences of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. This was stated by Home and Justice Minister K Shanmugam on 11 April, speaking at a Passover eve celebration organised by the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) at the Jacob Ballas Centre on Waterloo Street.

"Our fundamental objective, the fundamental duty of government, is to maintain law and order, protecting everyone. This is our first commitment," Shanmugam explained. The minister recalled that the Jewish community has a very long history in Singapore and is a dynamic and integral part of society.

"The community has played a vital role in building Singapore over the years and continues to do so strongly today," he said.

Last month, the Singapore government had instructed the local Israeli embassy to remove a Facebook post comparing references to Israel and Palestine in the Quran, which was deemed "totally unacceptable".

The Israeli embassy post read: 'Israel is mentioned 43 times in the Koran. On the other hand, Palestine is not mentioned even once. Every single piece of archaeological evidence - maps, documents, coins - links the land of Israel to the Jewish people as the indigenous people of the land'.

Referring to that post, Shanmugam explained that this approach to the issue 'risks inflaming tensions, can undermine the peace and harmony we enjoy in Singapore, and can even put the Jewish community here at risk if anger spills over to the physical plane'.

In turn, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Singapore said the post had been published without permission and the person responsible had been punished. "The Israeli embassy respects religion and harmony among communities in Singapore," the spokesperson added.

"We are a multicultural and diverse place in terms of religions, backgrounds and ethnicities," Shanmugam further commented at the Passover event. "And even in Singapore we have felt some repercussions of the ongoing war in Gaza. But fortunately the level of tension here is lower than in other places'.

'We have made a clear commitment to protect all our minorities,' the minister added, 'which, in the context of Singapore, includes the Muslim and Jewish communities. We are firmly opposed to any expression of violence and, of course, to any outright violence. Our relationship with Israel, since our founding, has been very strong,' he continued, 'but this does not prevent us from taking a principled stance on the actions of the various actors in the Middle East at any time. And Israel's recent actions have been a cause for concern... not only for us, but for many in the international community, including the United States. But our task is very clear: we want to isolate and protect our Jewish community from these impacts, as far as possible."

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