Terror fight 'not aimed at any race'

A "gunman" carrying out a simulated attack at Esplanade Park in an anti-terror exercise last year. Mr Shanmugam has described the new SG Secure initiative as not just another public awareness campaign but a "call to action".
A "gunman" carrying out a simulated attack at Esplanade Park in an anti-terror exercise last year. Mr Shanmugam has described the new SG Secure initiative as not just another public awareness campaign but a "call to action".ST FILE PHOTO

The battle against terrorism is waged against extremism and violence, and not aimed at any race, ethnicity or religion, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to Ms Rahayu Mahzam (Jurong GRC), who said Islamophobia was an unfortunate by- product of terror attacks. "The concern is if we let these sentiments fester, it may grow into resentment and distrust and some extreme few may take their feelings too far," she said.

Mr Shanmugam stressed that the Government would exercise sensitivity when calibrating its anti-terror messaging, adding that Singaporeans need to stay united to "protect the multiracial and multi-religious soul of Singapore".

He also highlighted how Singapore would not allow hate speech in the name of civil liberties.

Other countries such as Belgium have allowed this, and coupled with the presence of ghettos, significant under-employment and unemployment, it has contributed to the foment of extremist groups, he said.

He was responding to Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who asked how Singapore could be inoculated against the threat of terror groups.

He highlighted how in February, Singapore deported four Indonesians who had planned to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group, but the Indonesian authorities have since released them. "In Singapore, they would have been subjected to the Internal Security Act, no questions," he said.

"If other countries wish to treat would-be terrorists in a different way, they do so taking the consequences of their decisions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'Terror fight 'not aimed at any race''. Print Edition | Subscribe