A Singaporean teenager arrested for posting an expletive-laden YouTube video attacking Christianity and the country’s late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew will be charged in court with “wounding” religious feelings, harassment and circulating obscene content, police say.
Police said they had “received more than 20 reports regarding an online video that contained, in part, insensitive and disparaging remarks against Christians”.
“Police arrested a 16-year-old male Singaporean in relation to the said video” on Sunday, the police statement said.
It said the young man — unnamed but identified by local media as Amos Yee — would be charged in court later Tuesday.
Police said the suspect was facing three separate charges, including for actions that have “deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person”.
‘Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person’
Yee will also be charged for “putting into circulation” an obscene object as well as for “threatening, abusive or insulting communication” under the city-state’s newly enacted Protection from Harassment Act.
In an eight-minute video titled “Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead”, Yee launched a scathing attack on the 91-year-old political patriarch who was cremated after a state funeral on Sunday.
In the video, Yee also likened the city-state’s first prime minister to Jesus Christ as he launched a tirade against Christianity.
“Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person … everyone is scared, everyone is afraid that if they say something like that they might get into trouble,” Yee said in the video.
He challenged the former leader’s son, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, to sue him.
The video been taken down from his YouTube page but others have reproduced it in part or in full.
Deputy police commissioner Tan Chye Hee said police took a stern view of acts that could “threaten religious harmony” in Singapore.
“Any person who uploads offensive content online with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person will be firmly dealt with in accordance with the law,” he said in a statement.
Teenager faces three months in jail
Lee, credited with laying the foundations for Singapore’s prosperity as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, was given a hero’s send-off on Sunday, with more than 100,000 people lining the streets for his casket’s final procession despite torrential rain.
He was revered by citizens for Singapore’s prosperity and social stability but also criticised by rights groups for entrenching a system that called for one dominant political party, the muzzling of the press and curbing political liberties including free speech.
Some Singaporeans who openly questioned Lee’s record and scoffed at the emotional reaction of many to his death have been attacked in social media by his supporters.
The government says 454,687 people — in a nation with just 3.34 million citizens — had paid their last respects to Lee before his public wake ended in parliament on Saturday.
If convicted, Yee faces up to three years in jail, a fine, or both for the first charge of deliberately wounding religious or racial feelings.
For circulating obscene content, he faces up to three months in jail, a fine or both, and a fine of up to $SG5,000 ($4,750) under the harassment law enacted last year.
Yee will be charged in a district court. Singapore’s Juvenile Court only deals with cases involving suspects below the age of 16.