Singapore condemns violence in Libya and offensive film
SINGAPORE: Singapore has condemned the violent attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US diplomatic staff on September 11.Singapore expressed its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of the victims in their time of grief. A spokesman from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the properties of foreign diplomatic missions and safety of foreign diplomatic staff should always be protected and guaranteed under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The MFA spokesman said Singapore also strongly condemns the video, "Innocence of Muslims", which denigrates Islam. He added that the video is highly offensive to Muslims and Singapore deplores the actions of the makers of this insensitive video. Freedom of speech, he said, must be balanced with respect for religious sensitivities. At the same time, extreme acts by individuals should be dealt with in a calm and rational manner, and can never provide the excuse for any acts of violence. Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a statement that freedom of expression does not give the right to insult another person's religion. He said this freedom must be safeguarded through mutual respect of the views and beliefs and others. Mr Teo added that responding to the film with violence is wrong and counter-productive, and expressed confidence that Singaporeans will react to the video in the same rational and calm manner as they had done previously. In Singapore, leaders from various religious groups have come out in solidarity, stating their intention to preserve the state of harmony in the country despite what is happening overseas. Lim Kay Tham, general-secretary of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, said: "We are quite united in disapproving such actions that offend the sensitivity of followers of another faith. Such action does not contribute to harmonious living and certainly does not generate more understanding." Habib Hassan Al-Attas, head of the Baalwie Mosque, said: "Many Muslims and many friends whom I've met are very upset when they heard about the film. But they are more upset when they heard about the killing of the ambassador."
Deputy Prime Minister Counsels Singaporeans
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has said that Singaporeans should not let events overseas "undermine the peaceful and harmonious relationships we have built up over the years in Singapore".
He was responding to media queries on the film, "Innocence of Muslims", which has sparked violent protests across the Middle East, and resulted in the death of a US diplomat and three others.
Mr Teo added: "Freedom of expression does not mean that one has unfettered rights to insult and denigrate another’s religion or race.
"Rather, we safeguard this freedom only through mutual respect of the views and beliefs of others.
"Responding to this inflammatory and offensive film with violence is also wrong and counterproductive."
He said he is confident that Singaporeans will react to the film rationally and calmly, "as they have done previously".
Photo Credit: AsiaOne
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