Religious schools do not produce extremists, says militant's brother

Religious schools do not produce extremists, says militant's brother

PETALING JAYA - Madrasahs (Islamic religious schools) are not militant breeding grounds, claims the brother of a Malaysian militant who died in Syria.

Zainon Ariffin, 53, said that his speech delivered at Madrasah Nurul Hidayah, which appeared in a New York Times video clip on Jan 14, was edited to make it seem he was supporting the militant activities of his deceased brother, Mohd Lotfi Ariffin.

The video clip accompanied an article titled "The Jihadist in Our Family".

Lotfi, the younger brother of Zainon, died in Sept last year after falling into a coma, following an ambush on rebel militants in east Hama.

He was injured in the attack that also killed fellow Malaysian militant Mohd Fadhlan Shahidi, 21.

Zainon said: "Islam forbids violence, so there was no reason I would speak for violence in a madrasah."

He explained that Madrasah Nurul Hidayah, a school which Lofti jointly founded, was intended as a place to teach Islam.

In the clip, a schoolboy at the madrasah was shown saying that he wanted to die as a martyr, which Zainon said was misinterpreted.

"When he said he wants to die as a martyr, people immediately assumed that he meant that he will to go to Syria and fight, but that is not the case," he explained.

He added that the view or act of individuals connected to madrasahs should not mean that the madrasahs were at fault.

"If it is an individual who committed the action (of militancy), the focus should be on the individual, not the family or the madrasah," he said.

Zainon said that the video clip has also shed a negative light on Malaysia.

"It made it seem as though Malaysia has been churning out militants and I don't want my country to be shown in that light," he said.

He added the video clip has brought too much unwanted attention to Madrasah Nurul Hidayah and other madrasahs.

"Islam does not condone militancy and violence, so how could madrasahs, which is intended to teach Islam, promote miltancy and violence?" he said.

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