Man arrested for attacks on madrasah students
Attack on madrasah students at Paya Lebar MRT Station
The police have arrested a 48-year-old man in connection with the attacks on madrasah students at Paya Lebar MRT Station.
According to the police, the Singaporean Chinese man attacked three girls, aged 14 to 16, in separate incidences early on Friday morning.
They were all students of Madrasah Al-Ma'arif Al-Islamiah - a top madrasah here that admits only girls - located at Geylang Lorong 9, a few minutes' walk from the MRT station.
According to Chinese daily, Shin Min Daily News, a teacher from the madrasah saw two girls in tears outside the train station as she was making her way to work.
When they told her what happened, she immediately called the police.
A teacher at the school said in a Facebook post that one of the victims was kicked in the left thigh while the other two were hit with a plastic bag containing a heavy item.
The incident, which happened around 7am, created an uproar.
Online, furious netizens wanted quick justice.
A netizen by the name Dave Koh said: "This is not just an ordinary assault case, it's child abuse and inciting religious hatred.
"Suspect could have killed one of them and leave (sic) a symbol of another religion behind to stir emotions."
Three ministers have spoken out on the matter.
On Friday night, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam promised to get to the bottom of the attack.
Yesterday afternoon, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim urged calm in his own Facebook post, even as he condemned the attack.
Dr Yaacob said: "We must stay calm and united, and not let this incident divide us. Let us pray that our young students will recover from this unfortunate incident."
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) also urged calm while acknowledging the community's concern yesterday.
Last night, after the arrest, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a Facebook post he was glad for the swift action.
He added: "As a society, we should stand together against all forms of violence against innocent persons, especially if there may be racial or religious undertones."
Meanwhile the school has been updating parents and the victims have been counselled.
A parent of a student studying at the madrasah, Madam Norima Wati, 36, told The New Paper on Sunday that she was relieved.
"I couldn't sleep since the incident happened because my two daughters travel to school by public transport and they are only 11 and 12 years old."
The stay-at-home mum added: "The attack happened at such a public place and it was during peak hour.
"And for someone to do such a thing to young girls, it definitely made me worry as a parent."
Police investigations are ongoing.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Investigations & Intelligence) and Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Tan Chye Hee said: “The Police take a stern view of acts that could threaten the racial and religious harmony in Singapore. Any person who caused hurt to others on the basis of their race or religion will be dealt with severely in accordance with the law.”