ISA arrests a reminder not to take terrorist ideology online lightly: Yaacob

Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim asked Singaporeans in general to steer clear of sharing terrorist ideology online.
Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim asked Singaporeans in general to steer clear of sharing terrorist ideology online.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - The latest arrests of radicalised individuals are a reminder for the Malay/Muslim community to reject extremist ideology, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on Saturday (July 30).

It is easy for people and children to stumble across such information on the Internet, which is "thriving" with such material, so building resilience and a knowledge of right and wrong is key, he said.

Although Friday's announcement of the arrests under the Internal Security Act has placed the Malay/Muslim community in the spotlight, it also warns the community not to take the matter of terrorist ideology lightly, he said.

"You may be reading it and then you spread the ideology because you think it's nice to read. I think that's where the danger starts, that's where you begin to cross a very sort of soft line where you actually may not be out there in the theatres of war... but we are basically promoting that ideology by sharing it and that's what we want to prevent from happening," he said.

Once people begin to entertain the idea of terrorist ideology, "you are basically sailing very close to the wind", he told reporters on the sidelines of an event at the National Library Building.

 
 
 

He also asked Singaporeans in general to steer clear of sharing such ideology online. "Our position must be when we come across something online which we think is egregious, which doesn't conform, we just delete it or just don't share it... Once you begin to share you seem to be promoting it and that's not very healthy for us."

The authorities have been monitoring the situation, and are keeping tabs on people who subtly promote terrorist ideology in their writings or blog posts, added Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

However, it is not possible to police every website. This is why people must be resilient and able to decide on their own when to reject things they see, whether it be terrorism, pornography or other online material, he said. Parents should also keep an eye on what their children are reading online and how they are reacting to this.

"We will continue to work with our community leaders, with our religious leaders, to ensure that the message of Islam - that we know is a religion of peace - gets embedded in the hearts and minds of fellow Singaporeans so that when they go onto the Internet, which you cannot block, they know what is right and what is wrong," he said.