After receiving hate message, Muslim leader calls for peace

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Singapore—Being a religious leader can be a sensitive matter at times, especially perhaps in multicultural countries such as Singapore. 

On March 24, Muhammad Zahid Mohd Zin posted a photo of an upsetting note that he had found on his car door on his Instagram account. 

The words written on the yellow envelope are a derogatory term in Malay.

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IG screnngrab: Muhammad Zahid Mohd Zin

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He captioned the photo with the following words:

“Precisely this is why discussions were held behind closed doors. Issues raised are close to the heart. People have strong emotional attachment to it but not many have the strength to discuss it gently and diligently

This was left on my car today after i had my breakfast. Ive forgiven the doer. Hopefully my family wouldn’t have to see this often. Stay calm and move on :)”

According to mothership, Mr Zahid’s reference to closed-doors meetings may be in relation to the issue of Muslim nurses wearing the tudung, or headscarf, an issue brought up in Parliament that leaders said had been discussed behind closed doors.

After posting a photo of the hate message on the yellow envelope, the religious leader posted a call for peace and calm.

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IG screengrab: Muhammad Zahid Mohd Zin

His caption this time was a call to “focus on the real issue,” move on and raise funds for the Palestinians.

In the posts that have followed, Mr Zahid makes no more mention of the hate message.

The issue of wearing the tudung arose late last month, when in his Budget debate speech on Feb 24, Workers’ Party MP Faisal Manap  suggested that Muslim nurses wear the tudung as part of their uniform.

Responding in Parliament on March 8, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said that the uniform policy in public service cannot be tilted towards any particular religious belief. 

“We don’t want patients to prefer or not prefer to be served by a Muslim nurse, nor do we want people to think that public security is being enforced by a Muslim or non-Muslim officer,” he said. 

Furthermore, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Maliki Osman had joined Mr Masagos in highlighting that Singapore’s approach to dealing with sensitive issues, such as wearing the tudung or headscarf in certain professions, is to discuss them behind closed doors to avoid serious ramifications, which could impact religious harmony.

Since then, the issue became somewhat contentious, with many people taking issue with the Government’s stance.

However, just this week, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam clarified that the Government can “see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear the tudung if they choose to do so”.

Mr Shanmugam was the guest speaker at a dialogue with the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) on Mar 23 at the Khadijah Mosque in Geylang Road.

He touched on the Government’s position on nurses wearing the tudung, noting the same issue was discussed six months ago on Aug 31, 2020.

“It was a closed-door meeting, and I could be frank,” said Mr Shanmugam in a Facebook post on Tuesday.


Read also: We can see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear tudung: Shanmugam

We can see good reasons why nurses should be allowed to wear tudung: Shanmugam

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