Four books have been banned in Singapore for extremist content that the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) says can "cause social distancing, distrust, hatred and even violence among people of different faiths and religious views".
They contain undesirable and harmful teachings that are detrimental to the peace and harmony of multicultural, multi-religious Singapore, it added yesterday when announcing the ban, which starts today.
"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," it said.
The books 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.
Expressing support for the ban, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said it had conducted a thorough assessment of the books 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," it added.
Those with copies of the books have to hand them over to the police, said MCI. The books were published in Jakarta between 2011 and last year.
Muis said the authors present a very binary view of the world that pits Islam and Muslims against the rest of the world and non-Muslims. In the long run, this could lead to an insular, exclusive Muslim community that seeks to isolate itself rather than integrate with the larger society, it added.
It also said the books are against the code of ethics of the Asatizah Recognition Scheme, which requires all Islamic teachers and the schools they teach at to be registered. The titles come under the Undesirable Publications Act, and those who distribute or own them could be fined, jailed, or get both punishments.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim warned that "the threat of extremism is real and should not be taken lightly". He called on Singaporeans to play their part in safeguarding Singapore, by staying alert to radical individuals or teachings and reporting them to the authorities.