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Muis approval mandatory for any new Islamic religious textbooks

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Islamic schools must now get approval from Singapore's top Islamic authority before they can introduce any new religious textbooks into their classrooms.

This comes after the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) "uncovered the use of problematic texts and materials" in some Islamic schools, said Mufti Fatris Bakaram yesterday when he announced the new move.

The rule covers not just the mosques and madrasahs, but also religious teachers who use their offices or homes to teach Islam to non-family members on a regular basis.

Examples of books with problematic teaching include those that say that "Muslims living in a majority non-Muslim society must maintain a feeling of enmity and animosity towards the non-Muslim", said Dr Fatris, Singapore's top Islamic scholar.

"Many of these materials unfortunately were sourced from overseas without any due care to review the materials," he said.

"We must take a firm stand on the kind of teachings that should not be allowed in our context," he added.

He said Islamic schools will be barred from using books and literature with such teachings.

These schools will also have to "work with Muis if they wish to introduce any new books into their curriculum", he said, adding: "This (requirement) will be institutionalised henceforth."

There were previous instances where religious teachings that promoted intolerance surfaced in Singapore. In April, a chief imam of a mosque was charged in court, fined $4,000 and repatriated for committing an act that was prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between religious groups.

Dr Fatris revealed that Muis has stopped some foreign preachers from speaking in Singapore because their teachings had called for non-Muslims to be subservient to Muslims, and making multicultural societies exclusive to Muslims, among other things.