SINGAPORE –A resource and counseling center to combat extremism is being refurbished to better serve the community, and one of Singapore’s oldest mosques.
Built in 1920 and subject to major preservation works in 2001, the Khadijah Mosque in Alzhunied receives a new façade to expand the center of resources by the middle of 2023.
The work is expected to be started in the middle of this year, and will include an outdoor gallery and a multifunctional hall.Facelift plans have been announced for a mosque event on Thursday (29 April), which was attended by Heng Swee Keat, the Deputy Prime Minister, various ministers and muslim leaders as well as members of the center-run Refurbishment Group (RRG).
In his speech DPM Heng emphasized the central role of the Moschee in supporting the work of the RRG and the critical role of the RRG, as a result of the increasing faults over race and religion in many societies, in building understanding and tolerance.He said he was pleased that the leaders of Singapore’s religious and communal groups have joined forces to combat extremism, condemn violence and demonstrate their firm opposition to radical ideologies in all respects.
He also advocated the RRG’s commitment to become “instrumental” in the construction of a Singapore in which people of different races and religions live in peace and trust. “In addition, the Resource and Counselling Centre serves not only to provide visitors with a better appreciation of global terrorism, but also an opportunity to understand the actual message that Islam teaches its followers – that of peace,” said Mr Heng.
He later added: “This is why we have peace and harmony in Singapore.”
The RRG Center for Radical Ideology and Violent Extremism, which opened in 2014, offers advice and support for the public. It provides advice to members of the public. It also stores materials that can be referred to by RRG advisors during their work with radicalized individuals.
Mr Heng noted that before Covid-19 there was an extra 15 000 visitors, including from schools and from abroad at the centre’s gallery, which can only accomodate 30 visitors at a time.Mr. Heng said that the expanded center will make it possible to reach even more Singaporeans and reinforce counter-ideology efforts, who emphasized that these are essential steps to address the threat of online radicalization. The Department of Internal Security has been dealing with 54 people in terrorist conduct since 2015, most of which were radicalized online under the Internal Security Act.
Ustaz Mohamed Ali, RRG Vice-Chairman, has stated that expanding the Centre’s activities is necessary due to the growing amount of its visitors and the wider range of anti-radicalization activities within the community.
“Enhancement and upgrading of facilities are deemed necessary prerequisites to deliver a better and more effective experience for the visitors and community alike,” he added.
Beyond these efforts by the RRG, Mr Heng held up how the Malay/Muslim community has also been working hard to build up a reservoir of goodwill among the different communities in Singapore.
“Malay/Muslim organisations have played a significant role in building our Malay/Muslim community in Singapore, which has much to be proud of,” said Mr Heng. He noted the efforts of many volunteers over the years to uplift the community, preserve their culture and language, and guide their religious needs that also foster harmony with others.
He added that the community has many successful role models that impact Singapore and return it to society.
“The community has dignity because it knows it has to be equal in substance and not only in rights,” said Mr Heng. “Those who have done well want to give back, but in ways that fulfil their personal mission in life.”
The DPM also pointed out that, not because of a chance but because of determined collective effort, Singapore’s diverse society remained harmonious and cohesive and thanked the Muslim community for its contributions in this area.
“Let us continue to work together to preserve and strengthen our social bonds, drawing strength from our diversity, instead of letting it divide us,” he said.
Source: The Straits Times