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NEWS UPDATES 10 July 2010

Be rational on ISD detentions

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The Minister in-charge of Muslim Affairs has sounded a warning against over-reacting to the latest detentions by the Internal Security Department.

This is Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim's first comments on the issue since news broke on Tuesday.

News of the detentions sparked concern among Sinagpore's Muslim leaders.

But they and leaders of other faiths were vocal in their support of interreligious ties.

Dr Yaacob said this showed they knew what's needed to address such challenges.

He said: "Certainly every incident will throw up new challenges and new responses which are needed and that is something we have to continue to explore and refine as we go along.

“It's important not to over-react but we must react. We must react in a decisive, rational, calm manner because we know this is a challenge. For me, it's one case too many. We have to make sure this does not happen again, but can anybody guarantee? I don't think we can."

On Tuesday, it was reported the Internal Security Department had questioned three individuals for links to Anwar al-Awlaki a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen.

The three are full-time National Serviceman Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid, unaccredited religious teacher Muhammad Anwar Jailani and businessman Muhammad Thahir Shaik Dawood.

20-year-old Muhd Fadil had surfed the Internet for jihadist propaganda and videos while studying in a polytechnic.

He also went online to search for information on bomb-making, as well as produced and posted a video glorifying martyrdom and justifying suicide bombing.

He has been arrested under the Internal Security Act and according to the Home Affairs Ministry is the sixth Singaporean to be self-radicalised.

The two others, Muhammad Anwar and Muhammad Thahir, have been issued Restriction Orders.

The incident has once again cast a spotlight on the dangers of the internet, but Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said that the world wide web is a "Wild Wild West", a marketplace of ideas that is difficult to regulate.

He said what MUIS and the Muslim community can do is to attract the young by keeping their programmes relevant.

MUIS for instance has revamped it religious education programme and this has received positive feedback from participants.

Dr Yaacob added: "At the end of the day, we also have to adjust the way we teach Islam to the young, the way we connect to the young. And in fact some of our young asatizahs (religious teachers) are very clued-in to the demands of the younger generation.

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