An Indonesian preacher, Abdul Somad Batubara, was denied entry into Singapore on May 16 due to his history of extremist teachings that are unacceptable here, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on May 17.
MHA, via its spokesperson, was responding to queries from The Straits Times.
Preached that suicide bombings legitimate
The spokesperson said Somad had previously preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and considered "martyrdom" operations.
He had also made comments denigrating members of other faiths.
He once described the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an "infidel jinn".
"Jinn" translates to spirit or demon.
Somad has also publicly referred to non-Muslims as "kafirs" or infidels.
The spokesperson added: "Somad has been known to preach extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society."
Indonesians have criticised Somad, even though he is one of Indonesia's most widely followed preachers online.
Mainstream Muslim leaders have also called him out for comments he has made denigrating other faiths.
Preacher travelled with entourage of six others
Somad was travelling with six travel companions.
They arrived at Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Monday, May 16 from Batam.
The MHA spokesperson said Somad was interviewed, and then his group was denied entry into Singapore.
They were then placed on a ferry back to Batam on the same day.
Case assessed on its own merits
MHA added that a visitor's entry into Singapore is neither automatic nor a right, and each case is assessed on its own merits.
The spokesperson added, according to ST: "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."
Preacher posted about incident on social media
Somad revealed on social media on May 16, the day he was turned away from Singapore, about being denied entry.
His post included a photo and video of his holding area in Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
The preacher claimed that he was detained in Singapore while awaiting deportation, which was reported by Indonesian media.
Indonesian media reports have mentioned that Somad was similarly denied entry to Hong Kong, Timor Leste, and several European countries in the past.
Indonesian ambassador to Singapore Suryopratomo told Indonesian news site Tempo on May 17: "He was not deported but did not get a permit to enter Singapore so he was asked to return."
Suryopratomo did not elaborate why Somad did not receive permission from the Singapore authorities.
“The exact reason, perhaps, can be asked to the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta because they are more entitled to explain the reason,” Suryopratomo added, according to Tempo.
In 2019, Somad was investigated by Indonesian police after he was accused of committing blasphemy against Christianity.
These accusations were based on a video of his sermon from several years earlier.
The preacher had refused to apologise for his remarks, Tempo reported, and further reporting that Somad had claimed his views were aligned with Islamic teachings.
Top photos via Ustaz Abdul Somad Facebook