Resource centre set up to counter extremism

Resource centre set up to counter extremism
President Tony Tan Keng Yam (2nd from right) official Opening of the RRG Resource and Counselling Centre (RCC). With him on his left is Ustaz Dr. Mohamed Bin Ali

A GROUP formed by Islamic scholars and teachers to counsel radical jihadists yesterday launched a resource centre to share information on its work in countering religious extremism and terrorism threats in Singapore.

Set up by the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), it is the first of its kind here and offers a reference centre for religious teachers, researchers and the community.

Based at Khadijah Mosque in Geylang, it has a gallery showcasing the group's work since it was formed in 2003, training and workshop facilities as well as counselling rooms.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who was guest of honour at the centre's opening, said it is an "important step towards providing a persuasive countervailing voice against the extremist narratives" in the public domain.

It will help the group document and further disseminate its research in violent extremism and radicalisation, he added.

"It will upgrade the competencies and reinforce the knowledge of RRG members in the fields of terrorist rehabilitation and counter-ideology and provide a platform for RRG to collaborate with other academics and professionals around the world to build a global network of moderate Islamic scholars and practitioners."

Yesterday's event, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Communications and Information Minister Yaccob Ibrahim, coincided with the annual iftar, or breaking of fast, organised by the RRG and the Khadijah Mosque.

The centre was proposed last year during RRG's ninth annual retreat, at which the group realised there was no centralised place for academics and religious leaders to examine the threat of violent terrorism in an in-depth and rigorous manner, said RRG's co-chairman, Ustaz Ali Mohamed.

He told The Straits Times there was a need to build on the moderate network of Islamic scholars and practitioners here and in the region.

RRG has widened its outreach in the fight against terrorism. Last year, it organised its first global conference on terrorist rehabilitation and community resilience. It was attended by global counter- terrorism experts and community leaders here.

"Moderation impacts all aspects of our lives, whether in our understanding of our religion or in our interactions with family members or friends of different races and religions," Ustaz Ali said. "This is something we must continually work on to protect the peaceful and harmonious relations of our country."

ateng@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Maryam Mokhtar


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