Celebrity preacher Abdul Somad has responded to Singapore’s official reasons for denying him entry — an incident that has sparked tension between the Southeast Asian neighbors.
On Monday, the cleric claimed that he was detained by Singapore’s immigration authoritie before being “deported” to Indonesia. Amid huge uproar in Indonesia, where Somad enjoys a huge following particularly from conservative Muslims, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a statement citing Somad’s extremist and segregationist teachings as the reason behind him being denied entry.
Somad addressed Singapore’s allegations against him in a YouTube interview uploaded yesterday evening.
“Regarding all the controversies about me, I have clarified them all. Just search ‘UAS’ clarification’ on YouTube and write the topic next to it,” Somad said, referring to himself using his initials.
In its statement, MHA highlighted three controversies related to Somad: “For example, Somad has preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and are considered ‘martyrdom’ operations. He has also made comments denigrating members of other faith communities, such as Christians, by describing the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an “infidel jinn (spirit/demon)‘. In addition, Somad has publicly referred to non-Muslims as ‘kafirs’ (infidels).”
On the first example, Somad responded, “The context is that in Palestine, the Palestinian soldiers have no means whatsoever to fight back against Israel’s attacks. That’s not my opinion, I was explaining [to my congregation] the views of other ulemas.”
“The second issue regarding the presence of jinn in crucifixes. That was the word of the Prophet… angels won’t enter a home that has statues. Why won’t they? Because angels aren’t in council with jinns. Not that they’re scared. They don’t want to be sullied,” Somad went on to say.
“Regarding kafirs, the term means apostasy. Those who don’t believe that the Prophet Muhammad is the messenger of Allah are kafirs. I am kafir against the devil because I don’t follow his temptations.
“I will never stop preaching this. If they see me as an extremist, a segregationist, then so be it. It’s my religion’s teachings, and I will continue to preach it.”
PA 212, an umbrella group comprising some hardline Indonesian Islamic groups, says that a mass protest at Singapore’s embassy in Jakarta is “very likely.” The group accused the Indonesian government of feeding defamatory information about Somad, which led to his being barred from entering Singapore.
In case you forgot, the group staged a mass protest in 2018 that fueled the criminalization of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over remarks considered blasphemous towards Islam.
The Indonesian government says it will not make a fuss of Singapore’s decision to deny entry to Somad, but stressed that it was not notified about the measure against the preacher beforehand.
It’s worth noting that Singapore has been indiscriminate in ensuring religious figures do not preach hate in the country. In 2019, it banned American pastor Lou Engle from preaching in the country over his Islamophobic sermons.
In addition, Somad has also been denied entry to five other countries in the past, namely Timor Leste, Hong Kong, the Netherlands via Switzerland, Germany, and the UK.