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Religious Communities Unite Against Terrorism

18 February 2017

1. 18 February 2017 (Saturday), Singapore - More than 300 participants from around 110 Religious and Community Organisations took part in the Counter Terrorism Seminar 2017 at SUNTEC Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, organised by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), together with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

2. The aim of this seminar was to raise awareness of the SGSecure movement, in which religious organisations play a vital role in countering the threat of terrorism. Recent terror-related incidents, such as the attacks at a mosque in Quebec and a Christmas market outside a Berlin church, highlight that a terror attack can happen anytime and anywhere. Places of worship are also vulnerable to terror attacks and religious leaders need to plan and prepare to better protect their premises and members. In the aftermath of a terror attack, religious leaders play an important role in calling for calm and solidarity both within their communities and in the wider society.

3. At the seminar, participants were guided by several expert speakers from MHA, SPF and MCCY who covered topics on the current security climate, crisis management strategies, and combating the misuse of charities for terrorist financing. Providing the perspective of a religious organisation, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese shared its crisis plan, emphasising the importance of ensuring the safety of congregants and standing united as a nation. This sharing has enabled these religious and community organisations to more effectively prepare for, and respond to, crises.

4. Singapore cannot allow terrorists to replace the harmony we have built with fear and distrust. Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, said:

"[R]eligious organisations play a critical role in the SGSecure community response plan. Singapore counts on our religious leaders to work with the government to be prepared for terror threats and help others in the larger community. The Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles, or IRCCs, are an integral part of this effort. [Religious leaders] play a vital role, not just in keeping your congregations safe, but in ensuring that Singapore society remains united and recovers quickly from any terrorist attack...The plans that you prepare, and the exercises that you undertake in could help save lives in a crisis and ensure that Singapore does not allow terrorists to destroy the racial and religious harmony we hold dear."

5. More information on the IRCC can be found in Annex A.

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For media queries, please contact:

Deon Toh (Mr.)

Corporate Communications

DID: 6837 8973

Email: Deon_Toh@mccy.gov.sg

 

Goh Ching Hsia (Ms)

Community Engagement

DID: 8222 3665

Email: Goh_Ching_Hsia@mccy.gov.sg

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ANNEX A - INTER – RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS CONFIDENCE CIRCLES (IRCCS)

The Inter-Racial Confidence Circles (IRCCs) were formed in 2002 by then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong against the backdrop of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Re-positioned in 2006 to include religious organisations, the IRCCs serve as the local-level inter-faith platforms under the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) to respond quickly to incidents with racial and religious dimensions. Friendships and networks of trust are built during peace time to ensure that we can withstand challenges and strains on our social cohesion.

The IRCCs were officially renamed as "Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles" on 7 Sep 2007. The acronym, IRCC, however, remained the same. The renaming signifies the IRCCs’ active promotion of inter-religious understanding and harmony.

The IRCCs serve as important bridges between religious, ethnic and community groups at the local level. Leaders from various religious, ethnic and other community organisations have come together to join the IRCC networks to build friendships and trust. The IRCCs also aim to deepen people's understanding of the various faiths, beliefs and practices through inter-faith and inter-ethnic themed activities such as inter-faith heritage trails, inter-faith talks and dialogues and various ethnic and religious celebrations. The IRCCs are also primed to respond quickly to incidents with racial and religious tensions and to project solidarity on the ground during crises.

Through the IRCC, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) encourages leaders and their followers from religious organisations to join in the efforts to build networks of trust during peace time. MCCY is also actively involving the other ethnic and community organisations such as clan associations to participate in the IRCCs. In the aftermath of a crisis, they will be the key links to disseminate information, soothe and minimise communal tension, and maintain confidence in the community.

The IRCCs are also actively building up their capabilities to deal with crisis, through participation in scenario-based exercises, preparation of their own Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) and participation in relevant courses such as mediation and media appreciation.

Last Updated: 20 February 2017

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