SINGAPORE— With the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities approaching this coming Saturday (22 Apr), the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has advised that large crowds will be expected for the Eid prayers.

On 15 April, MUIS published a post on both its Facebook and Instagram page, stating that up to three prayer sessions will be offered across 68 mosques, providing 230,000 prayer spaces for the public.

Muslims are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled prayer time so that mosque volunteers and staff can guide them better.

MUIS has requested the community’s continued cooperation to ensure that everyone can perform the prayer safely and comfortably.

Bangladesh Muslim migrant workers allegedly told to “perform their Eid prayers at their respective dormitories”

However, a notice circulating online suggests a different approach.

With a letterhead of ‘Singapore Bangladesh Society’ (SBS) and published on behalf of MUIS, the notice addressed “Bangladeshi Migrant Muslim Brothers in Singapore,” requesting that they perform the Eid prayers at their respective dormitories.

The request to the recipients read as follows:

“We have been advised to convey a message from Muis, requesting you celebrate Eid-Al-Fitr safely and responsibly by performing the Eid prayers at your respective dormitories. 

“This will help to avoid overcrowding and road blockages and ensure the health and safety of everyone.”

Netizen questioned: “finding new ways to advise migrant workers not to exist in public”?

A netizen who shared the notice online criticized the Singapore authorities for finding new ways to advise migrant workers not to exist in public, even though lockdowns are over.

Subhas Nair, Singapore rapper also reshared the notice, questioned why the notice was published only on the Singapore Bangladesh Society’s page and not on MUIS’s, which raised questions about plausible deniability.

“I cannot say Singapore is a racist country or that MUIS is an extension of the surveillance state, ” he wrote.

Original post removed from SBS’s Facebook page

The notice originally published on the Singapore Bangladesh Society’s Facebook page has been removed since.

Mr Subhas emphasized that migrant workers have the freedom to travel and pray where they choose and that MUIS and SBS need to clarify their message immediately.

“If this message is being sent by MUIS to other groups, such as employers dormitory operators, this could directly lead to workers being restricted from leaving dorms.”

Netizens had commented on MUIS’s Instagram account, questioning why Bangladesh migrant workers, who are also Muslim brothers, cannot perform Eid prayers at mosques.

“Aren’t these spaces for all Muslims? Why are we excluding them and denying them the rewards of praying there? Masyallah…” a netizen questioned.

MUIS apologised “for the phrasing of the notice”

In response, MUIS apologised “for the phrasing of the notice” and explained that it was due to limited space in the mosques.

“It is never our intention to discriminate against our Muslim migrant brothers. They are valued members of the congregation. ”

MUIS said they have tried to address this by organising multiple sessions, thus doubling or tripling capacity, and trying to make more convenient places like dorms available for prayer.

“We would like our Muslim migrant brothers to be comfortable when doing their ibadah. Once again, apologies for the insensitive language. We will do better, ” MUIS wrote in the reply to the netizen.

MUIS clarifies arrangements for Hari Raya prayers, assures access for all congregants, including migrant workers

On Monday (17 April), MUIS released an official statement on their Instagram to clarify the post on SBS, reiterating that mosques remain open to all and up to three prayer sessions will be provided to accommodate the expected demand.

“The Muslim transient worker (MTW) community is a valued member of the Muslim community in Singapore. They have never been segregated from our community or our mosques. Many are regular mosque-goers and volunteers. ”

MUIS explained that even with 230,000 spaces on offer in all the mosques, they have planned for additional capacity to ensure congregants do not miss out on their Hari Raya prayers due to lack of space.

“We have more than tripled the number of prayer spaces in dorms, which the SBS letter was highlighting to the MTWs. We have also introduced over 20 supplementary venues for an additional 10,000 spaces in our housing estates islandwide. ”

MUIS said their approach for this year is to offer a “range of choices” to their congregants, across locations and times, so that they can perform their prayers in comfort and safety.

“As with everyone else, we encourage them to make their prayer plans early and take advantage of lower-demand locations and sessions.”

Commenters on the post highlighted that MUIS had failed to explain the rationale behind its advice to SBS to issue the post and to apologise for the matter.

 

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