Books being used to radicalise Bangladeshi Muslims in Singapore

Dhaka, July 23 : Islamist radical groups are targeting vulnerable expatriate Bangladeshis in Singapore to join militancy, through provocative books. In Singapore, most militant propaganda are spread through books that preach radicalised interpretations of Islam, reports the Dhaka Tribune. In foreign places like Singapore, where there is no prominent Muslim organisation or influential cleric to follow, many of the overworked expatriates struggle to find spiritual comfort. Further, the pent-up stress and frustration of living in a foreign culture continues to grow, which the Islamist radical groups see as an opportunity to brainwash these vulnerable expatriate workers into believing that hatred and violence are paths to salvation. "It is easier to brainwash those of us who live in a foreign land. We do not have any Pir (religious preacher) or religion-based group. So, different kinds of books are often distributed among us," said a Bangladeshi expat. These books contain provocative material written against Jews and people of other religions. Sometimes references from the Qur'an are mentioned and words in Arabic are included. Even though no one understands what the Arabic words meant, many Bangladeshis believed whatever translation or interpretation was included in the books. "The books push Muslims to boycott Jewish products and offer namaz, and speak about jihad," one of them said. However, others said that these books might be distributed by Bangladeshi shop owners to encourage Bangladeshis to boycott Singaporean products and buy stuff from their own stores instead. Several of the men also voiced their opposition against such books. "In Bangladesh, such books would have been known for spreading militancy. But since there is no such scope in Singapore, these books are now spreading fast," one of them said. So far, at least 35 Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested in Singapore in connection with plotting terrorist activities.