Extremist preacher barred from teaching here; his 9 books banned

Muis said Mr Rasul Dahri's teachings are "totally unsuited for Singapore's multicultural society and may lead to extremism in religious thought and practice".
Muis said Mr Rasul Dahri's teachings are "totally unsuited for Singapore's multicultural society and may lead to extremism in religious thought and practice".

An extremist preacher has been barred from teaching Islam in Singapore, and nine publications he authored have been banned.

Singaporean Rasul Dahri made statements in videos and books that were "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", the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a statement yesterday.

The action against Mr Rasul comes amid reminders by religious and political leaders for people to be wary of extremist ideology, after the recent arrests of several self-radicalised Singaporeans.

Muis denounced Mr Rasul's "problematic teachings", saying they are "totally unsuited for Singapore's multicultural society and may lead to extremism in religious thought and practice". It added that they do not represent the views of Muslims in Singapore.

Mr Rasul, who is said to have taught the Singapore leader of terrorist network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), opposes democracy and advocates the establishment of an Islamic state. Among his claims are that democracy, one of the fundamental governing principles of Singapore, is not part of Islam, said Muis.

He also called on Muslims to establish an Islamic state through jihad (armed struggle) and da'wah (Islamic call), and denigrated Jews as "people who accept terrorism as part of their culture".

 
 
 
 

Muis said Mr Rasul "also persistently denounced established religious rituals practised by Muslim scholars worldwide and declared those who practise them as deviating from his own mistaken view of what is 'the real Islam' ".

His nine banned books similarly contain extremist views.

Muis said this was why his application to be a religious teacher here under the mandatory Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) was rejected.

Under the Undesirable Publications Act, it is an offence to distribute and own the banned books, and people who have copies must hand them over to the police, said the Ministry of Communications and Information. Those found guilty can be fined, imprisoned or both.

Malaysia's National Fatwa Council and the Pahang Islamic Religious Department had also banned seven of Mr Rasul's books.

He is known to have been preaching in Johor for decades, and Mas Selamat Kastari, who headed the Singapore cell of JI, is said to have attended his classes in the 1980s. Malay daily Berita Harian reported that Mr Rasul was arrested in Malaysia last year for the third time.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli warned that radical teachings can sow discord and disharmony in Singapore's multiracial and multicultural society.

"We will not allow his radical teachings and his extremist ideology to take root in Singapore," said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

Mr Masagos said on Facebook that the recent arrests of radicalised Singaporeans drive home the need to be vigilant: "I must emphasise the importance of seeking Islamic knowledge from the right sources and have confidence in the guidance by our mufti and Muis."

Muis reminded Muslims here to seek religious education from qualified teachers endorsed by the ARS, which became mandatory this year.

Those who encounter extremist preachers should also report them to Muis (6359-1199) or the Asatizah Recognition Board (6604-8568), it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Extremist preacher barred from teaching here; his 9 books banned'. Print Edition | Subscribe