Singapore

Muis to harness tech to counter radical ideology

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) will intensify efforts to counter extremist ideology by tapping technology and getting more parents and community groups involved.

It plans to equip asatizah, or religious teachers, with social media skills so they can better connect with the young.

A Muis spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday that this could include teaching the teachers how to make better use of platforms such as Facebook Live, which allows people to post live videos, and helping them package religious knowledge in digestible, bite-sized forms that will work better online.

When news broke on Monday that 22-year-old Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari had earlier this month been detained for radicalism, Muis said in a statement that the incident highlighted the serious threat of self-radicalisation.

It warned that social media platforms are fertile ground for radical ideology, saying: "The community needs to be very wary of the carefully crafted messages which ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and similar movements are projecting on social media."

PRO-ISIS MATERIAL

Izzah, who was an infant care assistant at a pre-school, actively posted and shared pro-ISIS material on social media.

Muis said it hopes to beef up the presence of local asatizah on social media to spread legitimate Islamic teachings.

Otherwise, young people, who are more likely to turn to the Internet for religious guidance, may be exposed to the teachings of foreign preachers that may not be contextualised, said the Muis spokesman.

"We want to have home-grown alternatives online, who are able to provide content that is appropriate to Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious context," he said.

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