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Launch of BRIDGE to deepen religious understanding and strengthen social cohesion

31 March 2017

1. To strengthen our nation’s social cohesion and resilience, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu launched “BRIDGE” (an acronym for Broadening Religious/Racial Interaction through Dialogue and General Education) today at National Gallery Singapore. BRIDGE is a series of community-driven initiatives, which includes community dialogues and content on sensitive questions on race and religion, to foster a better understanding and appreciation of the diverse religions and cultures in Singapore. This is part of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s (MCCY) efforts to partner the community in providing safe spaces and opportunities to discuss sensitive issues, and deepen shared religious understanding among Singaporeans.

2. Minister Fu said, “Singapore has always drawn strength from the diversity of our people – this is the hallmark of our society. While we have enjoyed decades of racial and religious harmony, we cannot be complacent. Around the world, we have seen how ignorance and distrust have divided communities and polarised society. We need to provide more safe spaces for community dialogues on sensitive issues, and clarify the practice of religions in Singapore. In this way, we can deepen understanding and appreciation across faiths and cultures, and build a more cohesive society.”

Aim of BRIDGE  

3. In recent times, there has been an increasing diversity in the interpretation and practice of religion. It is thus important to deepen our understanding of the different faiths practised by fellow Singaporeans. In partnership with the community, BRIDGE aims to clarify the practice of religions in the context of a multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore. BRIDGE will have three focus areas:  (a) Develop content (e.g. videos, publications) that fosters an understanding of different religious practices and beliefs as practised in the context of multiracial, multi-religious Singapore.  (b) Encourage dialogue and frank discussions on sensitive topics in a safe and mutually respectful setting.  (c) Support and sustain ground-up interfaith initiatives through MCCY’s Harmony Fund.   More information on the background of BRIDGE can be found in Annex A.

Launch of BRIDGE – documentary screening and dialogue on self-radicalisation and religious extremism  

4. At the launch, over 120 religious, community and youth leaders viewed a documentary titled “Jihad Selfie”, by Mr Noor Huda, a PhD candidate from Monash University, Australia. Drawing on his research about terrorist networks in Indonesia, the film investigates the reasons behind the self-radicalisation of teenagers in Indonesia. It was followed by a dialogue with the film-maker on the complex issue of radicalisation of youth, and how religion is hijacked by extremists. The dialogue ended with the audience affirming that all in the community had to stand firm against extremist ideologies and actions. This launch event was organised with support from members of the National Steering Committee on Racial and Religious Harmony and the Inter Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs). More information on the launch can be found in Annex B.

Support for community efforts through Harmony Fund

5. To encourage more ground-up initiatives to deepen racial and religious understanding, Minister announced that MCCY would inject over $3 million into the Harmony Fund over the next three years. The Harmony Fund is open to applications from the public, and will be a key pillar in funding activities under BRIDGE. More details of the Harmony Fund can be found in Annex C.

For information

Annex A - Background of BRIDGE - Broadening Religious / Racial Interaction Through Dialogue and General Education

Annex B - Launch of BRIDGE - Documentary screening of "Jihad Selfie" and dialogue on 31 March 2017

Annex C - Harmony Fund

Annex D - Examples of Ground-up efforts supported of Harmony Fund

Last Updated: 03 April 2017

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