Singapore

Nine books by Singaporean banned for extremist content

Nine books by a Singaporean author have been banned here for extremist content.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said yesterday that the books by Mr Rasul Dahri contain extremist religious views, including the rejection of a secular state and a call for Muslims to establish an Islamic state.

The books, by two publishers in Johor Baru, are prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, said yesterday that Mr Rasul has "betrayed the values that Singapore has held so close".

"We will not allow his radical teachings and his extremist ideology to take root in Singapore," he said.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) also released a statement condemning the author and his teachings.

"(Mr Rasul Dahri) has made statements both in his videos and his publications that are exclusivist in nature and dangerous in that they promote enmity, strife and potentially violence not only towards Muslims but also other religious communities and the state," read the statement.

The New Paper understands that Muis had alerted MCI to the books.

Malay-language daily Berita Harian reported in January that Mr Rasul, 64, was arrested for the third time in Malaysia last year, and that Mas Selamat, the ex-leader of Jemaah Islamiah, was one of his students.

Asked whether action will be taken against Mr Rasul, a spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said the authorities are currently reviewing the matter.

The Berita Harian report said that religious organisations in Malaysia had previously denounced seven of Mr Rasul's books.

Two of the banned books have been banned in Malaysia for more than a decade, reported news agency Bernama.

A manager for one of the publishers, Perniagaan Jahabersa, told TNP that the last time it sold one of his books was over five years ago.

Mr Jamal Mohideen, 50, said: "We totally cut ties with him, because no one wanted to buy his books."

Muis said Mr Rasul's application to the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS), which endorses qualified Islamic teachers here, was rejected.

The ARS is overseen by the Asatizah Recognition Board (ARB).

CODE OF ETHICS

Ustaz Kamal Mokhtar, a member of the ARB, said accredited asatizahs need to have the right qualifications and adhere to a code of ethics.

Some of the banned books refer to different sects of Islam.

Ustaz Kamal said that asatizahs should not criticise other faiths or Islamic sects.

"There are OB (out-of-bound) markers put in place," he said.

He also said there is no need for Muslims to buy religious texts from overseas.

"Some of these books are translated and could be interpreted differently by the reader, it is best to have a religious teacher to refer back to the teachings of the Quran."

Muis advises that Singaporeans who encounter any individuals teaching and preaching such ideas should report them to Muis on 6359-1199 or the Asatizah Recognition Board on 6604-8568.

Members of the public who are in possession of the gazetted materials are advised to hand them to the police, failing which they will be liable to a fine, imprisonment, or both.

booksMINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION (MCI)Muis