Teach our young the geopolitical roots of terrorism

I agree with Ms Koh Choon Hwee that helping the young to understand and historicise the emergence of terrorism is equally as important as interfaith dialogue ("Terrorism is a political problem, not a religious one"; Wednesday).

Terrorism is bent on upsetting civil order and terrifying the public, while religion preaches non-violence.

But, in some parts of the world, religion is being used for political purposes - by intertwining religious and political ideologies to create an ideology of public order.

In such cases, it is reasonably probable that religion can become fused with expressions of the minorities, movements for change, and, hence, violence.

Open and honest interfaith dialogues are necessary to promote peace and harmony in a multi-religious society like ours, but they are not sufficient to prepare us to be streetwise against terrorism.

I agree with Ms Koh that the phenomenon of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Al-Qaeda is, in essence, more a political problem than a religious one.

We, in Singapore, are luckier than many in the West. Religious leaders here are determined to debunk religious dogmas that divide us.

And, importantly, the Government is serious about invoking all legal means to preserve public order, safety and security.

In Singapore, terrorism is a legal and security issue, rather than a political or religious one.

It is admirable that internal security agents here are doing a much needed but arduous job in weeding out terrorists.

It would be great if the Ministry of Education could consider Ms Koh's proposal , that "we have to start with our young, and proactively shift the paradigm for understanding the terrorist threats to the US-dominated world order from a religious one to a geopolitical one".

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Teach our young the geopolitical roots of terrorism'. Print Edition | Subscribe