Today is Racial Harmony Day

What happened exactly 44 years ago this day in history?

This Day In History: Race Riots In Singapore
1964. Riots break out and continue for about 10 days between the Chinese and the Malays, resulting in 23 killed and 454 injured. ~ The Straits Times, July 21, 2008

Over six hours yesterday, some 15,000 Singaporeans of all races and religions and tucked into Malay dishes in a tent next to the Geylang Serai Temporary Market. The occasion: A feast organised by community groups, including the Geylang Serai Business Community, to commemorate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday – an important religious festival celebrated by Muslims.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who shared lunch at a table with community leaders and orphans from the Jamiyah Children’s Home, said he was “heartened” to see Muslims in Geylang Serai and Kampong Ubi celebrating the occasion with neighbours of other races and religions. “In other countries, we do not see Muslims and people of other religions mixing so easily,” he said. “Here, we organise these activities to promote interethnic and inter-religious harmony.”

Travelling widely across the Middle East for the past two years with the aim of expanding Singapore’s economic space and building diplomatic ties, Mr Goh said he learnt from various countries that Islam has to be practiced in the particular context of the society. Across the Middle East, the practice of Islam has been contextualised through history, geography, culture and outlook, noted the Senior

In Singapore, Mr Goh said the practice of religions “must also suit the context of a multi-racial and multi-religious” society, which has to take into account that “Singapore is a very small country which can only survive if it is integrated into the modern world”. “Our underlying tenet of tolerance and respect for other people’s religions, while peacefully practising our own has brought us harmony, stability and progress. Let us keep it that way,” he said.

Yesterday, Singaporeans from all walks shared in the helpings of nasi briyani and traditional Malay cakes. Retiree Margaret Ho Choo Hong, who lives at nearby Haig Road, turned up with her neighbours for the lunch. The 69-year old told Today she was very happy as the lunch allowed her a chance to share the celebration with others. Also treated to free meals were residents of homes for the elderly and orphans from the Jamiyah Children’s Home, as well as the needy from other volunteer welfare organisations. Mr Goh said he was “very happy” to see the disadvantaged being invited to the gathering and were being looked after by the Muslim community. Citing Prophet Mohammed’s teachings of sharing, caring and compassion, Mr Goh said the same could apply across all religions here. “Especially in Singapore, we believe in that looking after our neighbours who are hungry,” said Mr Goh. ~ TODAY, July 21, 2008

Perhaps an opportunity to greet and say “Hello, how’s things been with you?” to your neighbour.


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