Thursday, August 03, 2006

Letter by Singapore Islamic organisations relegated by Straits Times

I was reading today’s print version of our pro-PAP government newsletter…oops, i mean newspaper, the Straits Times. In it’s letters section, ST Forum, i noticed one letter in the text box with the header “Online Forum”. This latter section directs readers to the online version of ST Forum where other letters, not published in the print version, can be found.

The letter titled, “Three Islamic bodies call for immediate unconditional ceasefire in Lebanon”, by three Islamic organisations in Singapore, seems to have been relegated ‘cos it was the last one in the text box with just the title. Furthermore, one would expect an important letter by such organisations to be published in the print version. Simply because i believe most Singaporeans buy the print version of the newspaper compared to reading it online. In fact, the letter was not even given much prominence online as well.

The Straits Times seems to have deliberately relegated the letter in such a manner. In so doing, the letter was not given its due prominence. But at the same time allowing the Straits Times to claim they were being fair in having “published” the letter.

There’ll surely be narrow minded people out there wondering if i’m a member of any of these organisations or maybe a Muslim myself. Well, the issue is not whether i’m a member or not or whether i’m a Muslim or not. The fact of the matter is, i would have highlighted what occured if it had happened to organisations from other faiths. Be it Christian or Catholic or Jewish or Buddhist or Hindu, etc, etc. First, and foremost, I’m a human being who happens to be Singaporean because I was born and raised here.

Below is the letter as “published” in ST’s online forum....

Three Islamic bodies call for immediate unconditional ceasefire in Lebanon, Aug 3, 2006

Last Sunday, Israel’s air strike in the southern Lebanese village of Qana killed at least 56 civilians, most of whom were women and children.

We express our shock, grief and outrage at Israel’s government for displaying once again that the pursuit of its military objectives can be executed with utter indifference to human lives and suffering.

It has already resulted in over 600 deaths and the displacement of over one million people from their homes in Lebanon.

The world has witnessed the indiscriminate use of force, despite Israel’s claim that its military campaign in Lebanon is targeted at disarming the Hezbollah militia.

By constantly insisting on shifting the blame to others, the Israeli government has also shamefully displayed its lack of remorse and inability to bear the full weight of responsibility for the massacre of innocent civilians in Qana and elsewhere in southern Lebanon.

Barely six days earlier, Israel’s missile attacks had destroyed a United Nations observation post in the border region, prompting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to say that Israel’s attack on the UN post appeared to be intentional and that he was ’shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN observer post in southern Lebanon.’

Several other countries denounced this attack. But apart from promising to investigate it, the criticisms fell on deaf ears.

Israel is a regional military superpower in the Middle East. It possesses far more sophisticated military hardware than any of its neighbours.

We are witnessing the use of its firepower superiority, in unjustifiably violent means, to try to solve the complex issues in the Middle East.

Israel continues to reassure the world that it is acting in self-defence. While we do not deny Israel’s right to protect its citizens, we are deeply concerned that the manner in which Israel has handled this conflict has not served to lessen the tension and violence in the Middle East.

Instead, tensions have continued to escalate dangerously. The call by the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr Fouad Siniora, as well as by Mr Annan for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire is sensible and should be given the fullest support by the entire international community.

We agree with the Singapore government’s call in urging all sides to exercise restraint and to immediately cease the activities that have triggered this cycle of violence.

The Singapore Red Cross has recently launched a ‘Lebanon Humanitarian Fund’ that is intended to help bring emergency relief and assistance to the war-torn country of Lebanon.

We appeal to the people of Singapore to support and contribute generously towards this fund-raising effort.

Centre for Contemporary Islamic Studies
Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS)

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