Increasingly important to counter radical rhetoric from militant groups: Masagos

Singapore's Senior State Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli participating in the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington, DC on Feb 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Singapore's Senior State Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli participating in the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington, DC on Feb 18, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli stressed that it is becoming increasingly important to counter the radical rhetoric from groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as he told global leaders about the city state's own battles with self-radicalisation.

Speaking on the last day of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism in Washington, Mr Masagos said the Muslim community and religious organisations in Singapore play a critical role in pushing back against extremist ideology.

"Fortunately, a long spell of peace and religious harmony has brought the community out on their own volition, to help tackle this problem, and to nip the issue in the bud," he said.

"Their participation has complemented security action by Singapore authorities. Even in rehabilitation, the community figures prominently, where individuals who are known to harbour extreme or violent views, we intervene early and refer such individuals to religious counselling."

He also told leaders about the work of the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), a non-governmental organisation that spearheads the counter-radicalisation efforts.

Mr Masagos stressed, however, that there are "no easy solutions" to the conflict in the Middle East.

"Developments in the region continue to carry religious undertones, and will continue to inspire terrorists or radicalised individuals to participate in armed jihad or militant activities," he said.

Singapore will host the East Asia Summit Symposium on Religious Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration in April 2015.

jeremyau@sph.com.sg