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Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh
Monday, Jun 23, 2014

Singapore

Mosques told not to get caught in LGBT crossfire

The Straits Times | Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh | Monday, Jun 23, 2014

Shah Alam Mosque in Selangor.

The Office of the Mufti yesterday sent an advisory to mosque officers with guidelines on how to address issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, lifestyles.

The Mufti, Singapore's highest Islamic authority, also advised mosque management boards (MMBs) and staff not to get caught in the crossfire between a pro-family Muslim group calling itself the Wear White community and the annual Pink Dot picnic, organised in support of the LGBT community.

Ustaz Noor Deros, leader of the Wear White Campaign, has taken issue with Pink Dot being held next Saturday, when Muslims will hold the first evening prayer to mark the start of the fasting month of Ramadan the next day.

He has urged Muslims to "stand up and defend the sanctity of family" by wearing white to the terawih prayer on that day.

The Office of the Mufti referred to reports on these developments and said they had led to "attacks and derogatory comments from supporters on both sides".

"We wish to advise MMBs and mosques staff that the mosque should only continue addressing the issue in our own subtle and sustained approach and mosques are not to be seen as being involved in the crossfire between the two initiatives, that is, Wear White and Pink Dot," it added.

The advisory also included pointers from a pre-Ramadan discussion organised by the Mufti for mosque officers on June 12 to discuss the LGBT lifestyle trend.

It summarised key points from that discussion, making it clear that it disagreed with efforts to promote the LGBT lifestyle. Its approach is to strengthen the Muslim community's resilience, help those leading the LGBT lifestyle to abstain from it and those with inclinations towards the lifestyle to overcome them.

It advised mosque officers not to adopt a confrontational approach or vilify those leading an LGBT lifestyle or taking part in events such as Pink Dot.

Mufti Fatris Bakaram also urged mosque officers not to make the LGBT issue their only focus during the month of Ramadan and to "adopt a more holistic approach". The theme of this coming Ramadan is "the importance of Islamic knowledge for the young, manifestation of good moral values and building resilient families", he added.

When contacted by The Straits Times yesterday, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) clarified that the advisory "is an internal operational document and not meant to be an advisory to the public, or a reflection of any endorsement of any civil society movement".

The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) also issued a statement on their Facebook page yesterday, asking Muslims not to attend any event that "supports transgression" of Islamic teaching on the family, including events in support of the LGBT lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Mr Noor shared the Mufti's advisory on his Facebook page. He also posted a press statement describing Wear White as an informal grassroots movement to help Muslims return to their natural disposition and also a response to "the growing normalisation of LGBT in Singapore".

The Wear White campaign has received the support of Reverend Lawrence Khong, founder and senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church. He issued a statement yesterday to say the LoveSingapore network of churches will ask congregants to follow suit and wear white on June 28 and 29.

asyiqins@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 21, 2014.
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