Below is the statement from the family of Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff, the 44 year old Singaporean who has been recently detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA)
We refer to the various reports over the past several days in the Singapore and other media, based on content and statements originating from the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs, Government Ministers, spokespersons and commentators relating to the announcement of the detention of Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
We are troubled that the media reports and commentaries are based on information that has been pieced together to suit the Singapore Government’s content and statements put out to justify the detention of Zulfikar under the ISA. Commentators have also used information selectively to attune their claims with that of the Singapore government.
However, such information does not represent the true and correct picture of the situation and statements over Facebook made by Zulfikar. In fact, the allegations are mostly based on postings in 2013 and 2014, and almost nothing from 2015 and 2016 where his position on many issues have changed.
We would like to highlight several points, but not exhaustive, of the claims made through the Singapore media:
1. Support of the Islamic State (ISIS):
The accusations of supporting ISIS are based on selected Facebook postings in 2014.
However, there were subsequent comments made by Zulfikar on Facebook which indicated that he did not agree with their actions and position. As his family, we have numerous recent conversations with him during which he had made it obvious to us, and anyone that knows him personally, that he is not a supporter of ISIS.
On 28th June 2014, Zulfikar had published comments regarding ISIS in Iraq and Syria, when there were news releases of a reestablishment of the Islamic Caliphate. The news was greeted with excitement by a number of Muslims, as the Islamic Caliphate is meant to be a central Muslim leadership in the matters of the religious law, and being the Muslim equivalent to the Roman Catholic papacy.
When the first global media reports of violence and beheadings by ISIS began in late July 2014 and the agendas of the ISIS fighters had seemed to differ from the peaceful perspective, Zulfikar took a different stance. He had been against their violent nature and ideology. Anyone who knows him personally would know that he is argumentative but not a violent man, and does not condone violence.
2. Portrayal as being violent and promoting war:
Zulfikar had never encouraged or promoted others to join ISIS. He’s not a violent person and does not encourage any violent behaviour towards others, no matter the race or religion.
3. Caliphate in Singapore:
It was never his intention to establish the Caliphate system in Singapore or use violence to achieve such an objective.
The stance on the reestablishment of the worldwide Islamic Caliphate is based on Muslim unity for religious adherence in creed.
Zulfikar had, on numerous occasions, stressed on the importance of the political unity of Muslims. It was not a violent idea, neither does it condone terrorism.
4. The photo of him with his children and the Islamic banner:
There had been a photo that had been circulated by the Singapore Media in an unclarified attempt to link it to a Jihadi pose.
The banner, which had been maliciously and falsely identified as an ISIS flag, is actually a banner which has been used throughout Islamic history, as the basis of Islamic creed to represent Islam, which states the Shahadah, or professing the recognition of God and the Prophet.
The banner in the photo was purchased to show solidarity towards the oppression of the Palestinians, which had been mentioned by Zulfikar in that post. It was never referred to as a support for ISIS or any other known terrorist organisations, besides being exaggerated by the Singapore media.
5. Al Makhazin
Al Makhazin (The Magazine), was established to give an alternative platform to raise awareness around Muslim issues around the world. It was to give a voice for Muslims to discuss current issues.
Zulfikar has never been a member of Hizbut-Tahrir. Claims that state otherwise are untrue and have no basis at all.
The contents distributed in the media, and statements and commentaries made thereafter are inaccurate and selective. We find such content malicious, with the intention of portraying Zulfikar negatively.
Zulfikar’s Facebook account had been removed while he was in detention, while media reports and commentators continue to falsely portray him as an extremist and as an ISIS sympathiser, without his FB page content being currently accessible to show the true nature of the posts.
While Zulfikar has always been known to oppose the Singapore Government policies, his postings were written from a perspective of someone who argued and rationalised his opposition to the PAP government’s policies vis-à-vis the Malay/Muslim community.
To detain him under the ISA for his views, is not fair. To further accuse him of being an extremist and by extension insinuating terrorism and being a sympathiser of terrorist organisations, is stretching the evidence from his FB page postings. Detaining him under the ISA without trial and without having the opportunity to challenge these aspersions in an open court is an injustice. We fear that the detention of Zulfikar also increases the chances of self-incrimination through “confessions” and “admissions”.
All this one-sided misinformation has given opportunity to others with whom Zulfikar has had disagreements on and offline to come out now and cast one-sided aspersions.
Zulfikar is a loving family man. His detention is doing irreparable harm to him and his family.
This response is not exhaustive, we will respond further on this matter as appropriate and as needed.