Keep a close watch on daughters too, as IS not just targeting men: Halimah

Keep a close watch on daughters too, as IS not just targeting men: Halimah
Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob speaks at the US Embassy Singapore's annual Iftar event. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY
Published: 11:35 PM, June 15, 2017
Updated: 7:52 AM, June 16, 2017

SINGAPORE — Noting that terror group Islamic State (IS) is not only targeting males, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob on Thursday (June 15) urged Muslim parents to be vigilant not just towards their sons, but also daughters.

“They’ve been seducing women by saying you are going there, you are doing something very good. You are going to enter heaven. But then it is contrary to Islamic principles,” she said on the sidelines of a breaking of fast event organised by the United States embassy here.

Although Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari’s case marks the first time that a woman has been detained in Singapore for being radicalised, Madam Halimah said it is not something new for other countries, which have seen young females leave their homes under “all kinds of deception”.

On Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that Izzah, a 22-year-old infant care assistant, wanted to join the IS in Syria and become a “martyr’s widow”.

Debunking the notion that becoming an IS bride is a good deed whereby women sacrifice their lives for Islam, Mdm Halimah said: “I don’t see how it can be in line with Islam when you draw out young women away from their parents under great deception to go and do something. To cross the oceans and be with an (IS) member. That’s completely against Islam”.

In her speech before breaking fast with a group of about 100 dignitaries and diplomats, Mdm Halimah said she is “heartened” to see non-Muslim Singaporeans speaking up for Islam and Muslims following news of Izzah’s detention.

“(They reminded) others that it is not Islam or Muslims that are at fault, but a minority with grossly misguided and distorted beliefs that are causing the problems,” said the Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

She said that the Izzah case shows how important it is for families and communities to “constantly have that dialogue and conversation” to debunk myths perpetuated by IS.

“We should know attacks arising from self-radicalised individuals are extremely difficult to monitor 100 per cent,” Mdm Halimah said.

“... So we just have to be very careful. It not just is the work of the Government, it is also the work of every member of the community that loves this country and wants to make sure that everyone can live in peace peacefully together.”

Meanwhile, the Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas), in its response to Izzah’s case, has called on the Muslim community “and parents especially, to adopt proactive measures and report any suspicious sightings or activities by family members or any individuals to the authorities”.

“This includes gathering of information or travel plans to Syria to join ISIS,” the association said in a media statement on Thursday. The Islamic State is also known as ISIS.

Reiterating an earlier statement it made in October 2014, Pergas said: “ISIS and any other groups with radical beliefs that cause bloodshed among Muslims and murder innocent lives are carrying out acts that are against the teachings of Islam and have no links to Islam.”

“Violent acts by ISIS should be condemned and the Muslim community should not support nor sympathise ISIS,” it added.