No place for violence in the name of Islam, says Mufti after 18-year-old detained under ISA
There is no place for violence and aggression in the name of Islam, said the country’s top Muslim leader in the wake of the detention of an 18-year-old student radicalised by extremist teachings.
In an Instagram post from his office, Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir called Muhammad Irfan Danyal Mohamad Nor a “misguided young Muslim who channelled his religious fervour wrongly and dangerously through the online exploitations of extremist ideologues and groups.”
Irfan was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in December 2022 after he planned to stab and kill non-Muslims in dark alleys, carry out a mass-casualty attack at the Amoy Quee Camp by recruiting a suicide car bomber, and construct a C4 explosive to bomb the Keramat Habib Noh grave site at Haji Muhammad Salleh Mosque in Tanjong Pagar.
The Mufti said on Thursday: “There is no place for violence and aggression, not in the name of our faith and our beloved Prophet’s teachings.
“The world must also change its course in order to preserve harmony and mutual respect so that our young and future generations are witnesses to the protection of lives, faiths and beliefs, and places of worship.”
He called for more to be done to guide and convince young people that the Islamic faith calls for goodness and kindness.
Irfan is the ninth person under the age of 21 to be dealt with under the ISA since 2015, a trend that Minister of Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam called concerning.
Experts The Straits Times spoke to said while anyone can fall victim to radicalisation, extremist groups target youths because of their susceptibility.
Dean of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Kumar Ramakrishna said: “This is because their relative emotional immaturity and tendency to think in binary, black-and-white terms, and to be excited by some wider political or ideological cause, render them relatively susceptible to extremist manipulation, especially within closed ideological echo chambers online.”
Executive director of public safety and management consultancy firm Centinel Jolene Jerard said that while there has been an uptick in youths being radicalised, recruitment is aimed at all age ranges to allow the terrorist groups to find like-minded individuals.
She added that the easy access to information on the Internet, coupled with the prevalent use of digital devices increases vulnerability to online radicalisation if one is not cautious or discerning enough to know the danger of obtaining information solely from online sources.
Dr Jerard, who is also an adjunct senior fellow at RSIS, agreed with Mr Shanmugam who on Wednesday emphasised that tackling the issue of youths becoming radicalised is a community issue.
However she argued that having discussions on the risks of the digital world could be more important. She said: “There is a need to build and reinforce safe and constructive environments for dialogues while maintaining constant and open communication with youths.”
For those who have been radicalised, Prof Ramakrishna said reintegration occurs by extricating the radicalised individual from their extremist echo chambers and giving them religious counselling, support groups and chances to resume their education.
“They still have their futures ahead of them, and if they do respond well to counselling, they should be given a chance to get back on track,” he said.
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