Security guard jailed for making Facebook posts inciting religious violence

SINGAPORE - A 28-year-old security guard has been jailed for three months after making Facebook posts inciting readers to religious violence.

Muhammad Shamin Mohamed Sidek made the two posts on Nov 29 last year after reading a news report of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a dialogue on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien said that Shamin's posts used "graphic and evocative language" which "further encourages violence along... religious fault lines".

She added that the reach of the accused's words had been magnified by the accessibility of his Facebook platform.

In mitigation, Shamin said he had deactivated his Facebook account the same day after leaving police custody, and that the posts had been those of  "a simple layman... venting in frustration".

District Judge Shawn Ho called the accused's posts a "grim reminder of how offenders can use technology to stoke the flames of violence... particularly given the current international, regional and domestic security climate".

"It is infinitely better to prevent a breakdown in law, order and safety than to deal with an aftermath when untold and often irreparable damage has been done," he said.

Shamin was also convicted of possessing contraband cigarettes, which were discovered during a police raid on his Tampines flat.

He admitted purchasing the 40 packs of Marlboro cigarettes knowing that their duties had not been paid. For this, he received a fine of $3,200, or 16 days' jail if he defaults.

For making a document or electronic record containing an incitement to violence, he could have been jailed for up to five years, fined or both.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg