4 books banned in Singapore for extremist content: MCI

The books are against the code of ethics of the Asatizah Recognition Scheme, which requires that all Islamic teachers and the schools they teach at to be registered. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Four books have been banned in Singapore for extremist content that the Ministry of Communications and Information has said can "cause social distancing, distrust, hatred and even violence among people of different faiths and religious views".

The ministry, announcing the ban of the four foreign publications, said on Monday (Oct 30) that they contain undesirable and harmful teachings.

"Such teachings and ideologies are detrimental to the peace and harmony of multi-cultural, multi-religious Singapore," said MCI in its statement.

"The Singapore Government has zero tolerance for individuals or publications which aim to encourage hostility or violence among different religious groups, and has therefore decided to prohibit these publications."

Expressing support for the ban on the publications, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said it had conducted a thorough assessment of four publications and found that they advocated "problematic religious positions that are extremely exclusivist in nature as well as dangerous".

"They clearly promote enmity, strife and potentially violence between Muslims and non-Muslims, and attack the modern, democratic nation-state," said Muis in a statement.

The ban takes effect from Tuesday (Oct 31), so those who have copies of the books can hand them over to the police.

The books were all published between 2011 and 2016 in Jakarta.

They are: Book Of Tawheed 1 and Book Of Tawheed by Dr Shalih bin Fauzan Abdullah Al-Fauzan; Encyclopaedia For Fiqh In Islam In Al-Quran And As-Sunnah by Mr Abdul Azhim Badawi Al-Khalafi; and Islamic Guidance For A Muslim by Dr Ahmad Hatta, Dr Abas Mansur Tamam and Mr Ahmad Syahirul Alim.

Muis said these authors present a very binary view of the world that pits Islam and Muslims against the rest of the world and non-Muslims.

It added that they failed to put their analysis, understanding and interpretation of Islamic teachings in the context of the modern world.

"These books do not promote a peaceful, moderate understanding and practice of Islam in multi-cultural societies. Instead, they project a simplistic, inward-looking and skewed understanding of Islam. This, in the long run, may lead to an insular, exclusive Muslim community that seeks to isolate themselves rather than integrate with the larger society," said Muis.

This is "contrary to the ethos of the Singaporean Muslim identity and diametrically opposed to the progressive and inclusive religious outlook of the Singapore Muslim community", it added.

It also said that the books are against the code of ethics of the Asatizah Recognition Scheme, which requires that all Islamic teachers and the schools they teach at to be registered.

The titles have been gazetted under the Undesirable Publications Act, which makes it an offence for anyone to distribute them and own them.

Those who have copies of the book also have to hand them over to the police, said the MCI adding that the gazetting takes effect on Tuesday.

People convicted of an offence under the Act can be fined, jailed or both.

Commenting on the banning of the publications in a statement, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim warned that "the threat of extremism is real and should not be taken lightly".

He added: "The Government strongly condemns the use of such publications to espouse destructive ideologies and promote enmity between communities. We will not hesitate to take firm actions where necessary."

He called on Singaporeans to stay alert to radical individuals or teachings and report them to the authorities saying the Government cannot "do this alone" and needs the support of everyone to safeguard Singapore.

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