The communal prayer calls and a special sermon — known as takbir and khutbah respectively — will not be televised on Hari Raya Aidilfitri this Sunday (24 May) due to a government prohibition on any religious content on free-to-air channels in Singapore.
Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said on Wednesday (20 May) that the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA’s) imposes a free-to-air television programme code, part of which does not permit the airing of any form of religious content on such channels here.
According to IMDA’s code on free-to-air television programmes, television “as a mass medium should be kept secular”.
The Authority added that programmes containing material of a “proselytic” or preaching nature are not allowed to be aired on television.
Programmes that are likely to offend racial and/or religious sensitivities, as well as those that may incite racial and/or religious intolerance or misunderstanding should not be broadcast on free-to-air channels, it stipulated.
The statement by MUIS came after the Council received backlash from segments of the Malay-Muslim community for its announcement on Monday regarding the decision to only provide a radio broadcast and online live streaming of the Eid takbir and not air it on Mediacorp’s Suria channel, Singapore’s sole Malay-language channel.
The live stream was planned in lieu of conducting takbir in mosques, due to public health concerns and COVID-19 restrictions under the circuit breaker.
“Traditionally, on the eve of Hari Raya, Muslims will congregate at the mosque after the breaking of fast, to recite the takbir as it is one of the Sunnah in Syawal.
“However, this will not be possible this year due to the closure of the mosques due to the ongoing circuit breaker measures,” said MUIS in a Facebook post.
The online takbir recitation will led by Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir and various asatizah on Saturday evening at 7.45pm.
It will be streamed live on SalamSG TV’s social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, as well as on the Facebook page of MUIS.
Malay-language radio station Warna 94.2 FM will also be airing the takbir for those who do not have access to the Internet.
At 9pm the same day, Mufti Dr Nazirudin will address the community via SalamSG on “how the community can fulfil its religious duties during Hari Raya amidst the COVID-19 situation”, said MUIS.
“The session will be joined by former Mufti Dr Fatris Bakaram and President of Singapore, Mdm Halimah Yacob, as a special guest,” said MUIS.
On the first Hari Raya day at 7.30am, the Facebook pages of mosques across Singapore will be streaming the Eid takbir.
The takbir will be followed by communal prayers at home with respective families instead of in mosques at 8.45am. The khutbah will be delivered in Malay and English at 9am.