SINGAPORE: A local company which sold flags associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group has come under scrutiny.
Albenyahya Enterprise, a firm registered on the island as well as Malaysia, admitted ordering about 20 such flags in July, to sell at a bazaar. The remainder were offered through the company's Facebook page.
When online sites highlighted this in reports, company owner Syed Mohammad Faisal filed a police report to complain about "baseless accusations" that his firm had links with terrorism.
By Wednesday afternoon, he had taken down his company's Facebook page.
"I didn't anticipate such a reaction. The most important thing is for me to protect my family," said the sole breadwinner, whose company sells Islamic wear and trinkets.
He did not realise selling the flags would be such a big deal.
Asked about the incident, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim urged Singaporeans to stay away from symbols which could be associated with ISIS, also known as Islamic State (IS).
"The question you must ask is, why would you want to support a movement that promotes mass killing, the murder of innocent lives?" he said after a post-National Day Rally dialogue organised by self-help group Mendaki and government feedback unit Reach.
"It is totally irresponsible of them and I do not think we should condone this at all."
Dr Fanar Haddad, a research fellow from the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, said that the specific font and design of the flag have been associated with the terror group which is trying to establish an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The group has been blamed for numerous atrocities including the beheading of foreign journalists.
Buying their flag is comparable to football fans buying team jerseys to show their support and solidarity, said Muhammad Saiful Alam Shah Sudiman, associate research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
According to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), "the acts of IS tarnish the Islamic faith and image of Muslims in general."
The Home Affairs Ministry added in a statement: "The IS has enlisted foreign fighters, including those from our region, to fight alongside the group, and this has raised the threat of terrorism to Singapore.
"The authorities are monitoring the situation closely. Singaporeans can also play a part by preventing their family and friends from becoming radicalised and unknowingly drawn into the violence," it said. - The Singapore Straits Times/ANN