State of Unease
Singapore’s Ambivalence towards Religion
Keywords:Singapore, religion, politics, 'Asian values'
The Singapore state’s changing policies towards religion have been based on the one hand on a series of perceived exigencies, and on the other on a sustained conviction that religion has an inherent capacity for social disruption. Two strains of religious extremism—associated with Islamic and Christian fundamentalism—have provided a continuing focus of state attention. Iconic events enmeshed in religion are constantly rehearsed as evidence for the need to exercise vigilant surveillance over the religious sphere. This article examines the construction of the problem, especially in the official media, and the range of intervention strategies adopted. Some of these strategies, it will be shown, have relevance for current debates about religious extremism in western societies.
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