They came from 10 different faiths, but the 10 religious leaders of the Interfaith Organization (IRO) were united in a silent prayer for the 13-year-old student at River Valley High School who was killed on Monday.
Imam Syed Hassan Mohamed Al-Attas, who hosted the session at Raffles Town Club yesterday under the auspices of the IRO, said he was pressured into doing so following the alleged murder and the new wave of Covid-19 infections.
The IRO board member told the Straits Times that the two incidents transcended race and religion, and the prayer session was an equally unifying response.
His fellow board members, including IRO President Tan Thiam Lye, rallied behind the cause, postponing their other commitments to attend the event to pray for Singaporeans and residents.
The imam, known as Habib Hassan, said he felt very sad about the alleged murder, but stressed that it was an isolated incident.
“We should go on with our lives and everything will be fine … Singapore is a cosmopolitan country and we are strong together. We do not distinguish any race or religion – we are one.”
The 13-year-old boy was cremated yesterday afternoon.
In his opening remarks to the session, Mr. Tan, a Taoist leader, also pointed to a separate incident in which a student was injured.
“These shocking events have occurred as we are troubled by yet another wave of growing Covid-19 cases,” he said in Mandarin.
“Indeed, we face challenges that test our resilience. The only way to overcome these test times is to be compassionate and take care of each other.”
He also said that the IRO organized the session to show concern for the welfare of the Singapore community.
A silent prayer was offered by 10 religious leaders: Habib Hassan (Muslim), Pandit Kalavanpara Ayyappan Sunil Kumar (Hindu), Rabbi Netanel Rivni (Jewish), Ervad Rustom M. Ghadiali (Zoroastrian), Venerable You Guang (Buddhist), Master Benjamin Tan (Taoist), Mr. Ashvin Desai (Jain), Reverend Gabriel Liew (Christian), Mr. Harpal Singh Jothiram (Sikh) and Mr. Kuek Yi Hsing (Baha’i).
Habib Hassan also had a brief invocation for Singaporeans and the community.
“Let us raise our hands together to pray to Almighty God to bless us all today, the innocent student of River Valley High School, and for the safety of all of our elementary and secondary students, teachers, principals and their families, ”he said.
“We pray for a peaceful world and a peaceful Singapore freed from the Covid-19 pandemic, for continued success and prosperity, in building a strong multiracial and multireligious society based on understanding and trust.”
Second Education Minister Maliki Osman also attended the event. In his remarks during the session, he asserted that the Department of Education will continue to provide support to all students and teachers affected by the RVHS incident.
“Today’s interfaith prayer session is a reflection of our strength as a society, coming together spiritually with those most affected by this tragic incident.
“We must continue to reject the virus of fear, selfishness, xenophobia and racism, which can be even more devastating on the human spirit and on society than the pandemic,” he said.