Photo of Yaacob Ibrahim from CNA

According to Minister Yaacob Ibrahim in Parliament earlier this month, all Muslim religious teachers will have to be registered with the Singapore government which he claimed will  “provide assurance to the public, that religious teachers who provide religious guidance are well qualified and trained”.

As there is no reason why religious teachers of other religions are not given similar compulsory registration, speculations are saying that the Singapore government is being racist and unfairly linking the Islamic religion to terrorism. Singapore is a secular country and hence legislation regulating the practice of religions should naturally be applied across the board. Registering religious leaders of all faiths would have prevented people like Kong Hee who scammed money out from his churchgoers.

Currently, 80% of the Islamic religious teachers in Singapore are registered under the government scheme, Asatizah Recognition Scheme (ARS). It is unknown what are the penalties if one is teaching Islamic religious studies without registering with the government.

This move came after the Singapore government found out that four Singapore citizens were arrested for being pro-ISIS. According to the Singapore government, two of the four were “radicalised” after listening to “terrorist ideologues and propagandists” from a radio station based in Indonesia, Batam. Restriction orders have been issued for two, while the other two who wished to join the ISIS in Syria were detained for two years.