Batam radio co-founder denied entry to Singapore for alleged Salafi links

Batam radio co-founder denied entry to Singapore for alleged Salafi links

A radio deejay broadcasts on Hang FM in Batam. Hang FM is one of the many religious radio stations associated with the Salafi movement in Indonesia, although its owner, Zein Alatas, rejects the label, saying the radio station was only trying to propagate Islam.
PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
A co-founder of Batam-based radio station Hang FM, Zein Alatas, has been denied entry to Singapore because of his alleged affiliations with the Salafi group, an ultra-conservative movement within Sunni Islam.

Zein had to undergo questioning for six hours at the Immigration Checkpoint Authority (ICA) at HarbourFront Port, Singapore on Tuesday before  immigration officers denied him entry and deported him back to Batam. His wife and six radio staff members who had joined him for the trip left the country voluntarily.
He told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that he went to Singapore to attend the wedding of his best friend. He arrived at HarbourFront at 10 a.m. local time.
“My wife and my colleagues were able to pass the immigration check. However, when my turn came, the officer asked me to enter the interrogation room and interrogated me for six hours before denying my entry and sending me back to Batam,” he said.

According to Zein, the immigration officers questioned him about his radio station, such as its activities and its affiliation with Radio Rodja, Indonesia’s leading Salafi station.

“I was really disappointed by this kind of treatment. Why do they conduct the interrogation in the interrogation room? And the officers did not even ask me about the purpose of my trip to Singapore. This is very disappointing,” Zein said.

Previously, in 2017, the station was scrutinized by Singaporean authorities after two of its listeners, Rosli Hamzah and Mohamed Omar Mahadi, were detained under the Internal Security Act for planning to travel to the Middle East and fight for the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria.

Rosli and Hamzah, both residents of Singapore, were avid listeners of Radio Hang FM. Singaporean authorities deemed the station to be a religious station that preaches extreme views. However, an investigation conducted by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) concluded that the station no longer promotes radical teachings in its broadcasts.

Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore I Gede Ngurah Swajaya would not comment on the matter.