Kedah government in bid to curb extremist teaching

Kedah government in bid to curb extremist teaching
Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

ALOR SETAR, Malaysia - The state government has collaborated with the Kedah Pondok School Association to curb the spread of extremist teaching among students who may be influenced into joining militant activities.

State Religious Affairs, Indian and Siamese Community, Human Resource and Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid said this move was made following reports that a madrasah (Islamic religious school) in Kuala Ketil had allegedly encouraged students to go to Syria.

"I have ordered the Kedah Islamic Religious Department (JAIK) to meet with the association to curb the extreme ideology.

"It's difficult to suppress these militant activities because they use various means, including social media, to attract students," he said after presenting aid to Sekolah Agama Rakyat here yesterday.

On Jan 14, the New York Times published a video featuring interviews with the family of the late Mohd Lotfi Ariffin, who had joined militant groups in Syria.

The video also showed interviews with his sibling who taught at Madrasah Nurul Hidayah in Kuala Ketil and had urged the students to follow his example.

In Putrajaya, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said detained suspected militants were isolated from other prison inmates to prevent them from recruiting new members.

He said the suspects, numbering about 120 people, including foreigners, were also separated from those serving time for serious crimes.

"They are held in cells in dedicated blocks in two prisons in Tapah and Bentong, which have been picked to detain suspected militants.

"Some of the suspects had attempted to spread their ideology to inmates whom they felt have the potential to become militants when they are released," he said after receiving a courtesy call from US Department of State Assistant Secretary of East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel here yesterday.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the militant threats and Malaysia's efforts and initiatives to handle the matter was among the issues discussed with Russel.

He added that the pre-emptive measures of the detained militants were needed as they were hard-core believers of the Islamic State ideology.

"We are not taking any chances despite these people being in prison.

"They must be separated from other inmates," he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid added that those who had repented had been asked to assist the authorities in rehabilitating the suspects.

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