Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Good to sound alarm on terror attacks, but guard against self-fulfilling prophecies

Haj Mohamed

March 30, 2016

I acknowledge why the Home Affairs Minister sounded a note of caution in the report “Attack on Singapore a matter of when, not if, says Shanmugam” (March 24). However, Singapore is not Britain, France or Brussels.

Britain’s Muslim population comprises immigrants from Asia and Middle East, whose cultures contradict its own. Singapore has an indigenous Muslim population who have deep roots here and have been practising their culture with ease. France, the most secular of countries, allows the mocking of religions. Singapore’s Government, though secular, has thoughtful legislators who are against this.

The Brussels incident was a time bomb waiting to detonate. There were already areas with a reputation for radicalism, but the government ignored this. “A matter of when, not if” could best describe the conditions there.

In Singapore, the Government is proactive and either detains or deports anyone suspected of having a propensity for terrorism. I am sure the Home Affairs Ministry will continue to receive feedback from others if any in the community were to plan harm to the country.

We know where the minister is coming from in sounding the alarm. There is also a need to ensure that it does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[True. People I spoke to also wonder if this might be alarmist. Of course we are not as bad as Malaysia who claims that their political leaders are ISIS targets. Even if that were true, I believe they were hoping to milk the situation (manufactured or otherwise) for sympathy.

BUT... Singapore has a reputation for being safe and secure. If terrorists can hit us, it will strike fear in anyone. So we are a juicy target precisely because it is unthinkable.

Also... self-radicalised individuals are hard to detect. 99.9999% of Muslims in Singapore are as Haj Mohd believes, loyal and peace-loving. But all it takes is one self-radicalised individual. 

So while I do believe and want to believe that we are not like France or Belgium, that we have good race and religious interaction and relations, it is not unthinkable, and it is not alarmist to be prepared mentally and emotionally.

One possible problem in being less alarmed is not noticing a friend who is slowly self-radicalising.]

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