Dealing with radical content online is a fight for hearts and minds: K. Shanmugam

File photo of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam. Mr Shanmugam said dealing with radical content online is a "fight for hearts and minds".
File photo of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam. Mr Shanmugam said dealing with radical content online is a "fight for hearts and minds".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The spread of radical content online remains a challenge, and dealing with it "is a fight for hearts and minds", said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Friday (Feb 9).

"The real antidote is to get our young people, and get our people to go to our mosques, and also look at the content that Muis (the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) and our Muslim leaders put out," he added.

Speaking on the sidelines of a closed-door event, Mr Shanmugam's comments come after the repatriation of 33-year-old Malaysian driver Muhammad Nur Hanief Abdul Jalil this month.

Hanief worked for a local airfreight company. He had access to the Changi Airfreight Centre, which is a restricted area and provides airfreight services to Changi Airport.

Investigations revealed that Hanief has been perusing the online teachings of foreign extremist preachers since 2008. Subsequently, he decided to act on his plans to travel to the Middle East and participate in armed conflict.

He was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) last month and The Straits Times understands that Hanief has since been detained by Malaysian authorities under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.

On dealing with radical content online, Mr Shanmugam said: "It is a fight for hearts and minds.

 

"We have to go in and fight and point out what is wrong with some of these teachings, and what is necessary for us to survive as a multiracial and multi-religious country with racial, social harmony," he added.

"Every case of radicalisation is serious," said Mr Shanmugam. "We were equally concerned when an infant care assistant was radicalised, with access to very young children. Parents were very concerned."

He was referring to Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, who was the first woman detained here for radicalism. She was detained under the ISA last June.

"We've been aware of these risks in different sectors for some time," he said. "We have taken and will continue to take steps that are doable, that are within our power to take."