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Indonesian preacher denied entry to S’pore says he will not give up trying to visit

SINGAPORE (CNA) – An Indonesian preacher who was denied entry to Singapore on May 16 said he will not give up trying to visit Singapore, describing the country as Malay land similar to Riau where he is from.

In a YouTube video on Wednesday, Abdul Somad Batubara said people in Riau see Singapore as part of their land because Singapore was part of the Temasek Malay kingdom.

“To say that I’m tired of going to Singapore is the same as saying I’m tired of going to Minangkabau. This is because Singapore is a Malay land. My grandmother has brothers, children and grandchildren who live in Singapore,” he added.

Somad said his intention in visiting Singapore recently was to have his wife and children get to know their ancestors.

Somad and six people who travelled with him arrived at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Monday and were placed on a ferry back to Batam on the same day. Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said he has been known to preach “extremist and segregationist” teachings, which are “unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society”.

A screengrab of a video showing Abdul Somad Batubara (R) in an interview on May 18 with Indonesian journalist Karni Ilyas. PHOTO: CNA

“For example, Somad has preached that suicide bombings are legitimate in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict and are considered ‘martyrdom’ operations,” MHA added. Protesters gathered at the Singapore embassy in Jakarta and the Singapore consulate-general in Medan on Friday, rallying against Singapore’s decision to deny Somad’s entry.

The protesters in Jakarta demanded that the Singapore embassy provide clarification over the incident and apologise openly.

The group also called for Singapore’s ambassador to Indonesia to be asked to leave the country.

In Medan, the protesters are members of the Alliance of Islamic Organisations of North Sumatra, according to CNN Indonesia.

A representative from the group reportedly said that Singapore’s decision had hurt the feelings of Muslims and affected Indonesia’s sovereignty.