Muslim community to beef up initiatives to fight online extremist influences
THE Muslim community is stepping up its efforts to counter extremist influences online, at a time when radical groups abuse the Internet as a platform for their views.
The religious education curriculum already includes lessons that help inoculate youth against online radicalisation, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament yesterday.
The Mufti's office at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) and the Religious Rehabilitation Group - which counsels radicalised persons - are developing print as well as online material to guide the wider community on the issue.
Dr Yaacob was responding to Malay/Muslim MPs at the debate on the budget for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. Muis is a statutory board under its purview.
The above efforts are part of a range of measures that he outlined, which aim to build a progressive Muslim community that strengthens Singapore's multi-religious society.
Dr Yaacob, who is Minister for Communications and Information, noted that Singapore Muslims have long been guided by the principles of moderation and respect for different races and religions.
And, while it will be increasingly difficult to try and balance competing views and interests, the community must instil, especially among youth, an appreciation of diversity.
"To me, being progressive is the ability to understand the modern world with an open mind and heart... We need to be well-read and be respectful as we balance differences in ideas, concerns and interests and gain a consensus to find the best possible solution," he said.
To better guide the community, Muis will work to build the capabilities of religious teachers.
Some 80 per cent of religious teachers are registered under the Asatizah Recognition Scheme, and Muis will discuss with them how to enhance it and get the remaining 20 per cent - some of whom are informally trained - on board.
To better guide those seeking Islamic religious education abroad, Muis will enhance its Student Welfare and Careers Office. It will also share knowledge on how Muslims in multi-cultural societies like Singapore practise their faith in a multi-racial society.
And to ensure there are enough prayer spaces for Muslims, 15 mosques have been upgraded and two built since 2009. Maarof Mosque in Jurong West will open later this year and the Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands next year.
When current projects are ready by 2018, there will be 24,700 more prayer spaces compared with 2009.
Dr Yaacob also said the site for the new mosque in Tampines North has been decided: along Tampines Avenue 10, in the heart of the future Tampines North town.
Madrasah Al-Arabiah in Lorong 6 Toa Payoh will also have a new home, next to its current premises.