S'pore must 'play its part' against ISIS

S'pore must 'play its part' against ISIS

Singapore needs to play its part and support international efforts against the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

He also paid tribute to community efforts here to tackle the terrorist threat, and said that it was heartening to see how all communities had worked with and supported one another.

The statement by DPM Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Home Affairs Minister, followed an earlier announcement in Parliament yesterday by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen that Singapore would contribute military personnel and equipment to the multinational coalition against ISIS, although no Singapore Armed Forces troops will be on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

Said DPM Teo: "The threat posed by ISIS affects all of us, in all countries. Singapore is not immune. Singapore needs to play its part and support international efforts to contain the threat posed by ISIS. This contributes directly to our own security."

At the same time, Singapore had taken actions to strengthen its community bonds and to counter extremist ideology, to help prevent Singaporeans from becoming radicalised.

"Our Malay-Muslim community, in particular, has taken a firm stance against the violent actions of ISIS, and taken proactive steps to counter their extremist ideology, and to help all those who are suffering from violence in the Middle East," he said.

Separately, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim issued a statement on Singapore's move.

Dr Yaacob, who is in Cairo, said the terrorist activities by ISIS pose a threat to all Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion.

He said: "Our decision to be part of the multinational coalition against ISIS is primarily to protect Singapore and Singaporeans. Although based far away in foreign countries, we know that terrorist groups can pose a direct security threat to us through their efforts to export terrorism to this region. We cannot be complacent.

"Some of us may think that Islam and Muslims have been put in the spotlight again. But this move against ISIS cannot be interpreted as an act against Islam, or Muslims, because ISIS is not Islamic."

He noted that Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas), and the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG) - which counsels those influenced by radical misinterpretations of Islam - have all joined international Muslim scholars and leaders in condemning ISIS unequivocally.

"They have all declared that ISIS' radical teachings and actions have nothing to do with Islam. Islam upholds peace, the preservation of human life and its sanctity, and it is thus forbidden in Islam to wage war wantonly on others," he said.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), Malay-Muslim organisations, community leaders and the Government have worked very hard together for many years to combat radical teachings that abuse the name of Islam, he added.

"I strongly urge all communities to continue to work together so that our people are more informed, understand each other better, and are not easily swayed by inaccurate or provocative foreign or social media reporting. This way, we will emerge stronger as Singaporeans, united in our common goal for peace, understanding and harmony."

Since Friday, the RRG has been giving out a pamphlet aimed at clearing up confusion about ISIS' plans for an Islamic caliphate.

The 12-page pamphlet advises the Muslim community about the best way to help victims of the Syrian conflict, and encourages those with questions about extremism to contact the group's resource centre, go to its website (www.rrg.sg), or contact the nearest mosque.

The RRG will also launch its first online video on ISIS to fight ISIS' propaganda.

charyong@sph.com.sg


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