Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said he appreciates a decision by a local printer of The Economist not to reproduce a page with the latest cover of the Charlie Hebdo magazine depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
“We have no doubt that there’s no such thing as freedom of expression without limits. As I have said before, the right to speak freely and responsibly must come together,” Dr Yaacob said to the media on the sidelines of the JFDI.Asia Demo Day on Friday (Jan 16),
Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs said the circulation of the cartoons will not be allowed in Singapore. He later posted on Facebook that “there are longstanding laws against causing offence to our races and religions” in Singapore.
The page in the Singapore edition of The Economist was replaced with a statement informing readers that the magazine’s “Singapore printers” declined to print it. The magazine hit local newsstands on Friday.
“I think Singaporeans understand the sensitivities and we must continue to protect our racial, religious harmony. So I appreciate the sensitivities shown by the printer and I commend them for the decision,” said Dr Yaacob.
“All in all, it’s been a good outcome for us, because people understand that we must continue to work together to preserve the racial and religious harmony in Singapore,” he added.
Dr Yaacob said the Malay/Muslim community is “by and large offended” by the latest Charlie Hebdo cover. “But I think they also understood that we need to act rationally and I am quite impressed at how the community has come together to respond to this particular episode,” he said.
“But at the same time, we recognise that this may not be the last time that it will happen and we have continued to build up our resilience. And on our part we should also continue to try and spread the message of peace and tolerance across all communities here in Singapore.”