Govt, Malay Muslims united in fight against extremism
Shanmugam says 'race-focused' policies vital for multiracial Singapore, Yaacob spells out community's efforts to address challenges
Videos of sermons by extremist Islamic preachers Zakir Naik and Ismail Menk were shown in Parliament yesterday, with Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam calling for a "clear line to be drawn" when it comes to acceptable religious teachings.
Both men have been banned from Singapore - Mr Naik says Muslims cannot vote for non-Muslims, while Mr Menk says it is blasphemous for Muslims to greet believers of other faiths for Christmas or Deepavali.
Mr Shanmugam also defended "interventionist" and "race-focused" policies such as the ethnic integration policy in housing, saying it is necessary for Singapore to thrive as a multi-racial society.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday said the Malay Muslim community and its leaders are "acutely aware" of the threats of extremist ideology, segregationist beliefs and practices as well as Islamophobia, and they have stepped up efforts to address these challenges, which threaten the country's social cohesion and national security.
The two ministers were responding to Holland-Bukit Timah MP Christopher De Souza's motion on staying united against the threat of terrorism.
Dr Yaacob, who is also the Minister for Communications and Information, said one major strategy is developing a group of religious leaders and teachers to provide the community with sound guidance.
Last year, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association made the Asatizah Recognition Scheme mandatory - all aspiring religious teachers, or asatizah, and Islamic education centres and providers must be accredited under it before they can teach Islam in Singapore.
There are more than 3,000 registered asatizahs and Quranic teachers and 174 Islamic Education Centres and Providers.
Anyone who crosses the line will be dealt with decisively, said Dr Yaccob, who raised the example of Singaporean preacher Rasul Dahri, whose books are prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act because they contained extremist views.
To complement the Religious Rehabilitation Group, Muis will set up an Asatizah Youth Network, which includes a number of asatizahs who have a strong online presence.
Muis has also strengthened its part-time religious programmes to include lessons to protect youth against extremist influences, started seminars to advise parents on issues such as authenticating online Islamic content and developed an info-kit to teach parents how to identify tell-tale signs of a person at risk of radicalisation.
It has started looking into building a Singapore Islamic college.
Fifteen MPs made speeches in support of the motion, which also made the call to "invest in multiculturalism as the best socio-weapon to defeat the ills that terrorism seeks to sow".
Aljunied GRC MP Faisal Manap called for the re-introduction of religious knowledge in schools, and Non-constituency MP Daniel Goh asked for more support to be given to race-netural self-help groups.
Ang Mo Kio MP Intan Azura Mokhtar called for voluntary welfare organisations and family service centres to look out for radicalised individuals.
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