'Act to set tone of Islam' here, Muslim leaders urged

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean speaks during the 12th Annual Appreciation Lunch for Community Volunteers held at Swissotel the Stamford on Sept 3, 2016.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean speaks during the 12th Annual Appreciation Lunch for Community Volunteers held at Swissotel the Stamford on Sept 3, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

DPM Teo: This ensures all S'poreans are clear about community's stand against extremism

Community efforts are vital in the fight against terrorism, and the Muslim community has taken the lead on this front by countering extremist ideology and narrow views, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

He called on Muslim leaders to "act to set the tone of Islam" here, so that all Singaporeans are clear about the community's stand.

When they see that the community and its leaders clearly reject extremism, "they will understand that the actions of a few terrorists or radicals who claim to follow Islam, do not reflect our Muslim community as a whole", Mr Teo said at a lunch to thank community volunteers.

"With all communities working together, we can form a strong and united front against extremist views," he said.

Speaking in Malay, Mr Teo said the Government appreciated the work of Muslim community leaders and volunteers such as the Religious Rehabilitation Group and Inter-Agency Aftercare Group in counselling terror detainees and reintegrating them into society.

This effort has drawn praise from the leaders of other religions here, who have pledged to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community to counter extremism, he said.

"While our security forces work hard to detect, prevent and deal with an attack, community efforts are key to countering the threat of radical ideology and exclusivism."

An area such efforts can focus on is ensuring Singapore's practice of moderate and inclusive Islam is upheld, said Mr Teo, who is Coordinating Minister for National Security.

Pointing to how terror attacks committed in the name of Islam have led to a rise in Islamophobia in other countries, he called on all communities here to stand united with the Muslim community."We can build social resilience and bounce back as one united community should an attack occur."

He also welcomed the Muslim community's support to make registration of all Islamic teachers mandatory, saying it would stop extremist teachings and exclusivist views from gaining a foothold here.

He warned the terrorism threat has not abated since the discovery of the Jemaah Islamiah network here 15 years ago. Recently, extremists linked to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria planned to fire a rocket at Marina Bay from Batam. Mr Teo said: "We must prepare now and act now before an attack happens, so that we can all stand together in the event of a terrorist attack, doing all that we can to maintain the precious social harmony that we all value."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline ''Act to set tone of Islam' here, Muslim leaders urged'. Print Edition | Subscribe