Key Points on Denial of Entry of Indonesian Preacher to Singapore
• Somad was denied entry due to his history of extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious society.
• Entry to Singapore is neither automatic nor a right. Each case is assessed on its own merits. We take a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings.
(1) On 16 May, Indonesia preacher Abdul Somad Batubara (Somad) arrived at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal with six others. Somad was interviewed, and the group was denied entry and sent back to Batam. Somad then claimed on Instagram (6.5 million followers) and YouTube (2.71 million subscribers) that he had been “deported” by Singapore.
(2) MHA has clarified that Somad was denied entry due to his history of extremist and segregationist teachings, which are unacceptable in Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious society. For example:
b. Segregationist remarks. In 2017, Somad said that Muslims should vote for, and accept only Muslim leaders, as non-Muslims are “kafirs” (infidels).
c. Inflammatory remarks towards other religions. In 2019, Somad described the Christian crucifix as the dwelling place of an “infidel jinn” (spirit / devil). </p>
(3) Somad’s teachings have had real consequences: in Jan 2020, the Internal Security Act (ISA) detained a 17-year-old boy who had been radicalised. He watched Somad’s YouTube’s lectures on suicide bombings and began to believe suicide bombers are martyrs.
(4) In a YouTube video on 18 May, Somad said that he would not give up going to Singapore, as it is Malay land (tanah melayu), and that the Riau people see Singapore as part of their land, because Singapore was part of the “Temasek Malay kingdom”. This implied that Singapore’s sovereignty is irrelevant, and that from his perspective, Singapore is not a separate country.
(5) In the days after Somad’s denied entry to Singapore, his supporters rallied around him and criticised the Singapore government. There were calls for cyber-attacks against the Singapore government, for Singapore to be bombed, and for Singapore to be attacked like the 9/11 incident in New York . Social media accounts of some Singapore political office holders and government agencies were spammed, and two events management companies had their website defaced. On 20 May, Somad’s supporters staged demonstrations outside the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore Consulate-General in Medan. In Medan, some protestors carried signs with message such as “boycott Singapore products” and “expel Singapore ambassador”.
(6) Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Indonesia acknowledges the sovereignty of every country to implement its immigration rules and exercise its rights to accept or deny entry to foreigners.
(7) This is not the first time Singapore has denied entry of and/or removed individuals who had sought to promote divisive or intolerant views along religious lines. For example, in 2017, two Christian preachers were banned from preaching in Singapore after they made derogatory comments towards Islam and Buddhism. Entry to Singapore is neither automatic nor a right. The Singapore government takes a serious view of any persons who advocate violence and/or espouse extremist and segregationist teachings. Moreover, Singapore is not the first jurisdiction to deny entry to Somad − he had also been denied entry to areas including Hong Kong, Timor Leste, and the United Kingdom.
Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam’s remarks
For more information:
Transcript of Doorstop Interview by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law https://go.gov.sg/20220523-mha-min-interview
MHA Statement in Response to Media Queries on Abdul Somad Batubara https://go.gov.sg/20220517mha-statement
MFA Spokesperson’s Comments in Response to Media Queries on the Demonstrations at the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore Consulate-General in Medan, Indonesia https://go.gov.sg/20220521-indonesia-demos
Indonesian preacher Abdul Somad, ‘known to preach extremist and segregationist teaching’, denied entry into Singapore: MHA (TODAY, 17 May 22) https://go.gov.sg/20220517-today-somad-denied-entry
Social media accounts of govt leaders, agencies spammed by supporters of Indonesian preacher denied entry into Singapore (TODAY, 18 May 22) https://go.gov.sg/20220518-today-socialmedia-spammed
17-year old detained under ISA among S’poreans following Indonesian preacher Somad’s teachings: Shanmugam (TODAY, 23 May 22) https://go.gov.sg/20220523-today-isa
Indonesian preacher denied entry to Singapore says he will not give up trying to visit (CNA, 21 May 22) https://go.gov.sg/20220521-cna-article
Supporters of Indonesian preacher denied entry to S’pore stage protests in Jakarta, Medan (ST, 22 May 22) https://go.gov.sg/20220522-st-article