SINGAPORE - The discovery and cancellation of an unethical Islamic religious teacher from the national recognition scheme is how the scheme should work, the Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli stressed in Parliament.
On Jan 16, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that former Singaporean religious teacher Murad Mohd Said, 46, and his student had been issued with Restriction Orders (ROs) under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
He is the first person who was once accredited as a religious teacher to be issued with an order under the ISA.
Murad was a freelance religious teacher until he was struck off the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) in May last year for his segregationist ideologies that contravened its code of ethics.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question on Monday (Feb 11), Mr Masagos, who is also the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said: "This is how the Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS) system should work. It monitors and takes action to bar those whose views are inimical to social cohesion from preaching."
He added that all Islamic religious teachers, known as asatizah, have to abide by an ethical code under the mandatory ARS.
Under this code, all asatizah are banned from encouraging extremism or violence, denigrating other racial and religious groups, committing ethical misconduct and promoting segregationist practices.
Mr Masagos was responding to Dr Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC), who had asked him if any reviews were being made to the scheme and if any changes would be made to it.
The Asatizah Recognition Board, which consists of senior and respected asatizah in the community, oversees the ARS and is supported by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
Mr Masagos said both the board and the council conduct regular reviews of the ARS, and processes have been put in to ensure the scheme only accredits responsible asatizah.
These include instituting provisional periods of observation and requiring additional interviews when deemed necessary by the board.
Said Mr Masagos: "If there are reports or if they demonstrate that they are unfit to be asatizah, such as breaching the code of ethics, their ARS status will be cancelled."