ISA arrests: Singaporeans must be more vigilant against radical ideologies: Yaacob Ibrahim

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim also urged Singaporeans to remain united and not discriminate against foreign workers here.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim also urged Singaporeans to remain united and not discriminate against foreign workers here.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans must be more vigilant, whether against radical teachings and ideologies, or of any suspicious activities, said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim in response to the arrest of 27 radicalised Bangladeshis under the Internal Security Act.

He also urged Singaporeans to remain united and not discriminate against foreign workers here.

The 27 arrested were working in the construction sector here.

"The actions of a few cannot determine how we treat others who have worked so hard to build our homes, schools and hospitals," Dr Yaacob said in a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 20).

 

He also expressed his concern over the arrests.

"Terrorism is a continuing threat that can have a grave impact on all of us.

"I appeal that we be more vigilant, whether against radical teachings and ideologies, or of any suspicious activities around us," he said.

Dr Yaacob added: "All of us, regardless of race, language or religion, have a role to play. With solidarity and strong bonds of trust, I am confident we can overcome these threats as one people."

MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin added: "Extremist ideas are not just what we read about in newspapers. We have to be vigilant. We should speak up to make it absolutely clear that extremism has no place in our multiracial and religious Singapore."

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) denounced acts or plans by extremist groups that threaten the security of Singapore. Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, Mufti of Singapore, said Muis will continue to step up efforts to prevent any form of radical teachings from taking root in the Singaporean Muslim community. Muis and the mosques also work closely with the Singapore Bangladeshi Association to enhance the welfare of the Bangladeshi workers.

Full statement from Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram:

"Muis, together with the Singapore Muslim community, joins fellow Singaporeans in denouncing any acts or plans by extremist groups which threaten the security, peace and harmony of Singapore and the world. They contradict the fundamental Islamic teaching of protecting the sanctity of human life and preserving peace and harmony at all times.

The safety and peace of Singapore is of paramount interest to the Singapore Muslim community. We have a commendable tradition of living as inclusive and progressive Muslims within the context of Singapore's multi-ethnic and multi-religious landscape.

In recent times, the community itself is growing in diversity, with the inclusion of our brothers and sisters from around the world who come to our shores to visit and work, as well as greater exposure through the internet and social media to the many orientations of Islam.

Just as we have shown the beauty of Islam in being able to live with other faith communities, so too should we refrain from intolerance within our own community. Exclusivist and isolationist tendencies will only lead to extreme religious thinking and practice, which is unacceptable and goes against the very essence of Islamic teachings.

Muis calls upon the Singapore Muslim community to remain vigilant and uphold our resilience against these tendencies, radical ideologies and individuals who subscribe to them, both online and offline.

On its part, Muis will continue to step up efforts to prevent any form of radical teachings from taking root in the Singaporean Muslim community."

Muis director of mosques Helmy Isa said:

"Singapore has a large number of foreign workers which include Bangladeshi Muslims working in the construction and the cleaning sector. Over the years, the Bangladeshis have been become part of and embraced by the diverse mosque congregation.

They perform prayers regularly at the mosques and also volunteer their time in helping the mosques in noble work such as preparing for and cleaning up after iftar during Ramadan as well as during other Islamic festivals such as Korban.

Muis and the mosques have taken several proactive steps to ensure that our Bangladeshi congregation could perform prayers in a conducive environment, given the prayer space constraints. Several mosques have included holding two sessions of Friday prayers and even Eid prayers to specially cater to their needs.

Muis and the mosques also work closely with the Singapore Bangladeshi Association (SBA) to enhance the welfare of the Bangladeshi workers. For example, the text of Muis' Eid sermons are translated into Bangla for the benefit of the workers.

We do hope that the discovery of the heinous plan by the group does not tarnish the good image of our Bangladeshi workers.

Muis has been stepping up efforts to prevent radical teachings from taking root in the community. This includes working with mosques to help them better design and manage their programmes, to ensure that mosque programmes promote intra and interfaith harmony through deep understanding of Islamic principles and practices, do not contain any element of deviant or radical teachings and ideologies and are not used as platforms to disparage other sects or religious thoughts in Islam or to denigrate other faiths.

Muis calls on the community to be vigilant against such teachings."

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