SINGAPORE, May 30 — If graduates of Islamic studies are found to be behind an online poll asking others to rank which female asatizah (or religious teacher) should be gang-raped, the Asatizah Recognition Board has said that it would not hesitate to take stern action against them.
They will also be barred from teaching Islam to the Muslim community in Singapore “in whatever form”, the board that accredits asatizah in Singapore said in a statement yesterday.
The board, which was formed by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) in 2004, urged the community not to speculate further on the matter because it is being investigated by police.
It added: “The Asatizah Recognition Board strongly condemns the act as it violates the norms of decency and morals in Islam. This matter is very serious and needs to be addressed immediately.”
Earlier this week, the poll sparked outrage in the Muslim community, drawing rebukes from public figures including President Halimah Yacob, who wrote that she was deeply perturbed when she found out about it.
At least 245 people had taken part in the poll, which ranked 12 female asatizah.
Halimah said on Facebook that if the poll was created by students of the religion, serious consideration must be given to “whether they are fit to preach in the community once they complete their studies”.
“Is there no limit to how low some will stoop to degrade and defile women?” she asked.
She added that not only those who conducted the poll but those who took part in it “deserve our strongest condemnation”.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority on Friday said that the poll, which was posted on the MeWe social media platform, had been assessed to have breached Singapore’s internet regulations.
The authority has contacted MeWe to request that it remove the poll. It is also in touch with other social media platforms to ensure that the post does not surface there.
The poll’s existence came to the fore after several religious teachers talked about it online. One was Ustaz Muhammad Zahid Mohd Zin, who spoke up on the issue in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
Ustaz Zahid, chief executive officer of the Muslim Youth Forum, put up a screenshot that censored the names and faces of the 12 asatizah.
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he was aware some have said that most of the people behind the poll were undergraduates reading Islamic studies.
He added: “I have tasked Muis to investigate these allegations at the soonest. If the allegations are indeed true, these perpetrators must be dealt with to the full extent of the law for demonstrating such deplorable behaviour.” —TODAY