The Straits Times says

As terror clock edges towards midnight

The wave of terror attacks in various places of late, most recently in London, has heightened the risks of ordinary people suffering at the hands of madmen seized by perverted beliefs. Last Saturday, the pavements people strolled on in London and places which once brimmed with bonhomie were turned into killing grounds by suspected Islamists. The attackers reportedly uttered pieties but, in fact, were the devil incarnate. Their tactic was to link themselves to a religion of peace in order to sow hatred among those of different faiths.

In London, Paris, Sydney and elsewhere, many citizens saw the ruse and came together instead to express solidarity in strong vocal messages. Sadly, there were also those who reacted differently and made Muslims the target of their runaway fears. They openly berated the innocent, scrawled hate graffiti as well as tweeted their bigoted taunts - taking aim at even London's much-respected Muslim mayor, Mr Sadiq Khan.

In the aftermath of this and earlier attacks, it has been noticed that the moderate masses are often silent. Are they fearful of reprisals, unwilling to stand up for their moral convictions, or lacking in the mental energy required to fight the menace of terrorism? People are capable of being worked up by seemingly smaller issues and they go to great lengths to show support for certain causes. Yet when it comes to the greatest moral outrage of this day and times - the cold-blooded killing of innocents by terrorists - many are strangely quiet. How many times, some ask, should messages of condemnation be repeated? The answer is: each and every time terrorism rears its head. The frequency and intensity of hate must be matched with an opposing force of greater power, if the battle against a Hydra-like enemy is to be won.

In Singapore, as unexpectedness is the terrorist's chief weapon, people need to blunt its edge by keeping the powder dry and staying in step with the SGSecure movement. Even when one manages to prevent or contain the physical harm that a terrorist inflicts during a single incident, the psychological damage of attacks should not be underestimated - for example, the suspicion that is bred when terror acts are not condemned by certain groups.

The multi-religious and multiracial nature of society imposes a duty on everyone to defend what has the potential to be both a source of strength and a source of weakness. Terrorists work on the fault lines. Hence, religious and community leaders and others must fortify the links to thwart them. In this unending struggle, it's vital to ensure social relations are sufficiently robust so people can work together to disrupt cycles of radicalisation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'As terror clock edges towards midnight'. Print Edition | Subscribe