Islamophobia as big a threat as terrorism

The threat of terrorism is very real in Singapore ("Radicals' arrest 'underlines need for vigilance'"; yesterday). What should ordinary Singaporeans do?

First, we must protect our multiracial harmony. Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and other non-Malay/Muslim Singaporeans must say it loud and clear that we stand by our fellow Malay-Muslim Singaporeans.

We should not only say it, but also show it, and not only in public events, but more importantly, in our daily routine: when we go to work, dine, play and travel.

We must convey our trust and belief that the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore treasures domestic peace and progress.

Second, we must support our Malay/Muslim neighbours and encourage them to do their civic duty.

They should report to the security agencies, any instance of suspicious activity within their community, including their homes, regardless of their opinion of its seriousness.

Their instincts should be to report what they see, hear or read within their community, rather than assume anything. Leave the assessment of the information to the professionals.

Third, ordinary Singaporeans must not tolerate the slightest hint of anti-racial and anti-religious sentiment against Malay/Muslims ("Govt looking at new steps to protect social harmony"; Wednesday). Doing so will only serve the cause of terrorism.

Instances of anti-Islamic graffiti or slurs against our fellow Muslim citizens in Singapore should be dealt with severely.

Singaporeans must regard such actions and behaviour as sedition. Islamophobia should be tackled as seriously as we tackle terrorism within Singapore. We should not flinch from reporting such incidents to the authorities.

Ravi Govindan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Islamophobia as big a threat as terrorism'. Print Edition | Subscribe