Singapore has banned two foreign Christian preachers from speaking in the country on Friday due to their "denigrating and inflammatory" towards Islam and other religions.
According to a report from Straits Times, Singapore's Manpower Ministry, in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), rejected the application of the two preachers for short-term work passes that required them to preach in the country.
"Just as I have banned Muslim scholars or preachers from coming into Singapore, the most recent banning has been as regards to Christian preachers. They were very Islamophobic in their statements outside of Singapore and we decided that we will ban them," said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam at a forum on Friday.
A statement from the MHA noted that one of the preachers had described Allah as a "false god" and referred to Buddhist by a Hebrew word that meant "lost, lifeless, confused and spiritually barren" people.
The other preacher had reportedly spoken against the "evils of Islam" and the "malevolent nature of Islam and Mohammed," while contending that it is "not a religion of peace." He also maintained that it is "an incredibly confused religion", interested in "world domination" and "a religion based on... adhering to uncompromising and cruel laws often focused on warfare and virtual slavery."
"Such teachings are unacceptable in Singapore's multiracial, multi-religious society, and the Government will not allow religious preachers of any faith to run down other religions or spread ill-will among the religions," the MHA stated.
The two preachers had applied for Miscellaneous Work Passes (MWP), which are required for foreigners on work assignments shorter than 60 days. Any foreigner who wishes to deliver a talk related to religion, race or politics is required to obtain an MWP, the MHA stated, adding that that the granting of the work permit was a privilege that is accorded to foreigners, not an entitlement.
It also noted that the Ministry of Manpower consults with relevant agencies in assessing MWP applications and that each application is considered on its own merits.
During the Institute of Policy Studies forum on Friday, Shanmugam announced that the government is looking to strengthen the country's Maintenance of the Religious Harmony Act (MRHA), part of which was a legal framework that enacted strict laws on hate speech.
Shanmugam said that the MRHA, which is aimed specifically at clerics, would be strengthened in the context of past incidents in the region, adding that he is prepared to defend the legislation at "any forum anywhere in the world."
The MHA disclosed that it was reviewing the need to enhance the Singapore's legislative provisions to safeguard racial and religious harmony in the country, and it would provide details about the review upon completion.