Ex-religious teacher and student issued Restriction Orders under Internal Security Act

A former Singaporean religious teacher and his student who held radical beliefs promoting violence and views harmful to Singapore's harmony have been issued with Restriction Orders (ROs) under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Murad Mohd Said, 46, was placed on an RO on Dec 5 last year, making him the first person who was once accredited as a religious teacher to be issued with an order under the ISA.

He 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.

His student, 56-year-old technician Razali Abas, was arrested in September last year and placed on an RO in October.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said yesterday that Murad was issued with an RO because he propagated beliefs promoting violence and views detrimental to the cohesion of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society.

It said he had taught his students that it was compulsory to kill apostates - defined broadly as non-believers, those who have renounced the religion as well as Sufis and Shi'ites, both of which are minority groups in the Muslim community.

THREAT TO SOCIETY

If you are a religious teacher, and you preach violence... that is an absolute no-no, it crosses many red lines.

HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW MINISTER K. SHANMUGAM, on the action against a formerly accredited religious teacher.

He had taught that Muslims were allowed to defend themselves by waging "armed jihad" against "infidels who persecuted them". "Murad also encouraged his students to withdraw from Singapore's secular society, disregard secular laws and adhere to the rulings of syariah law instead," MHA said in a statement.

The ministry added: "Investigations revealed that Murad progressively became more outspoken in his propagation of segregationist and violent teachings over the years as he wanted to counter views that were opposed to his."

The Straits Times understands that Murad was the principal of Madrasah Al-Arabiah Al-Islamiah from 2004 to 2006.

Razali was introduced to Murad's teachings in 2012 and attended his classes, said MHA. The "exclusivist religious teachings" in the lessons made Razali more susceptible to other radical and violent influences that he later found on social media.

Over time, he became convinced that it was legitimate to kill those who he felt were oppressors of Islam, including non-Muslims, said MHA. Razali began to seek out people with "militant-looking" profiles on Facebook, viewing them as heroes. Razali was issued with an RO "to prevent him from continuing his downward spiral into extremism".

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said in a separate statement that it and the ARS board had spoken to Murad about his divisive views, but he did not change them. He was struck off the ARS register and barred from conducting classes, but Murad continued spreading his views online.

As the authorities investigated Razali, they discovered Murad's teachings had influenced him. It was then that they deemed Murad's case to be serious enough for him to be placed on a RO.

 
 

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters yesterday that the actions against Murad showed the Government's readiness to act against those who threaten society. "If you are a religious teacher, and you preach violence and you tell your students it is okay to go and kill non-Muslims, that is an absolute no-no, it crosses many red lines," he said.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said the actions of the misguided few should not tar the good name of the Muslim community.

A person on an RO cannot move house, change job or travel abroad without official approval. He also cannot issue public statements or join organisations without approval, and usually continues to undergo rehabilitation, like counselling.

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-religious teacher and student issued Restriction Orders'. Print Edition | Subscribe