SINGAPORE – The communal prayer calls for Hari Raya Aidilfitri on Sunday (May 24) and the special sermon that day will not be broadcast on television because no religious content of any sort is allowed on free-to-air channels, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) has said.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, Muis said on Wednesday (May 20) that all television programming is guided by the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA’s) free-to-air television programme code, which disallows any form of religious content on channels here.
This comes after members of the Malay/Muslim community expressed concern about why the Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayer calls, known as takbir, will be broadcast only on radio and livestreamed online – and not on local Malay TV channel Suria.
In the comments section of the Facebook post Muis put up about the broadcast announcement on May 18, user Iruz SG said: “Why (is) Suria TV not airing it? What do you expect (for) those who (are) not tech savvy? What if Internet (is) down? Besides, the radio frequency is bad in some areas.”
Another user, Abdeel Haleem pointed out that using the Internet might not come easy to senior citizens, who would already be sad because their children cannot visit them on Hari Raya.
Muis had earlier said that people should not make visits or hold gatherings for Aidilfitri to protect their loved ones, especially seniors facing higher risks, as the festive occasion falls during the circuit breaker period which will last till June 1.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or Hari Raya Puasa, marks the end of the Ramadan fast and is usually a time when Muslims visit mosques in the morning to do special prayers, recite the takbir and listen to religious sermons.
This will not happen on Sunday, as all places of worship, including Singapore’s 70 mosques, are closed at the moment to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On the eve of Aidilfitri, the takbir after the last breaking of fast will be led by Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir and various religious teachers. This will be livestreamed via YouTube on SalamSG TV and via the Facebook pages of Muis and mosques.
Led by Muis, SalamSG TV is a YouTube channel introduced last month that has been providing content for Muslims throughout Ramadan. Besides religious messaging and guidance, the channel also features lifestyle and motivational content from several religious Islamic teachers in Singapore.
Dr Nazirudin will be addressing the community on this channel on the eve of Aidilfitri and will be joined by former Mufti Fatris Bakaram as well as President Halimah Yacob as a special guest.
On the morning of Aidilfitri, there will be a live takbir via Malay radio station Warna 94.2 FM, as well as online through the Facebook pages of the local mosques.
After the Aidilfitri prayers, Dr Nazirudin will lead a live sermon, which will be broadcast on radio and online channels such as SalamSG TV.
On its website, IMDA’s content code for nationwide managed transmission linear television services says that television as a mass medium should be kept secular and programmes of a “proselytic” nature should not be broadcast.
“Service providers should bear in mind Singapore’s multiracial and multi-religious context. They should exercise due caution and discretion when featuring the activities, beliefs, practices, or views of any racial or religious group,” IMDA said.