SINGAPORE: Social media is "not the appropriate platform" to receive religious guidance and instruction, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) said on Tuesday (Jun 20), after it was announced that auxiliary police officer Muhammad Khairul Mohamed has been detained for planning to travel to Syria to take part in armed violence.
MUIS noted that in the case of Khairul and Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, the first Singaporean woman detained for radicalism under the Internal Security Act, what is “common and disturbing” is that both were self-radicalised through social media.
"We would like to emphasise that social media is not the appropriate platform to receive religious guidance and instruction, not least in understanding complex political and armed conflicts in the Muslim world," said MUIS in a statement.
It added: “Exposure to the propaganda of extremist and radical groups online who exploit these conflicts to radicalise Muslims will misguide them to believe that participation in such conflicts is a religious duty.”
In both cases, family and friends found out about their views and intentions but did not report them to the authorities.
“The best way to help our loved ones away from this path is to offer help early by referring them to experts in this area, as soon as we detect there may be something wrong,” said MUIS, adding that the Religious Rehabilitation Group (hotline number 1800-774-7747) is ready to help.
It reiterated that it is working to develop the capabilities of local asatizah, or Islamic religious teachers, to be able to engage Singaporean Muslims on social media, noting that some younger asatizah have “started to make some good headway” in this area.
“We hope to populate social media with socio-religious content which is appropriate to Singapore, and negate the dangerous content which had managed to mislead Khairul and Izzah,” said MUIS.
YOUTHS ARE “VALUABLE ASSETS THAT NEED GUIDANCE”: MENDAKI
Self-help group Mendaki said on Wednesday that it is saddened by the detention of another radicalised Muslim, and concerned that both detainees are of “young adults with much potential in their future”.
“MENDAKI believes that our youths are valuable assets that need guidance from us as a community. We can play this role by constantly engaging and befriending them,” it said in a statement.
It also emphasised the importance of family members’ guidance and early intervention. “Families can turn to bodies such as MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) and the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) if they need advice on potentially radical materials or individuals,” it suggested.