The Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore has expressed “deep concern” over the arrest of a young Christian for alleged violation of the country’s Internal Security Act.
Authorities had earlier detained a 16-year-old boy for allegedly planning to attack two mosques.
The boy, an unnamed Christian of Indian ethnicity, had reportedly purchased a tactical vest online and had intended to also buy a machete at the time of his arrest in December.
Singapore’s Internal Security Department said in a statement on Jan. 27 that the boy conducted reconnaissance of the mosques near his home and intended to broadcast live his attack.
Authorities said the plan was inspired by the killing of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Singapore said it is “deeply concerned by this latest arrest of a self-radicalized Christian youth.”
The Church expressed “solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters,” saying that it “stands firmly behind its principle of respect for all religions.”
“Violence has no place in society, let alone misperceived martyrdom through taking the lives of others,” read the Church’s statement.
“We must appreciate the goodness in every religion. No peace can ever come out of hatred and bigotry,” it added.
The statement said that with the proliferation of “errant and violent materials” on the internet, “it is all the more urgent and incumbent on teachers and guardians to guide our youths to wholesome teachings, especially in matters of faith, which can lift people to great good or incite the worst offences against humanity.”
The boy is the youngest person to be detained under Singapore’s colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows authorities to detain anyone seen as a threat to security for up to two years.
He is also the first in the low crime island nation to be detained for far-right extremist ideology, while there have been a number of cases involving Islamic extremism including a 17-year-old arrested for supporting the so-called Islamic State last year.
It was not immediately clear for how long the 16-year-old would be detained.
Home Minister K. Shanmugam said that he would be given psychological counselling and will be able to continue his education while in detention but may not face criminal charges.
“It would be said in a court of law, that he was only thinking about it. He has planned it, but he hasn’t actually taken a step yet,” said Shanmugam in a television interview.