Countering the terror threat, together

Newspapers in the Asia News Network gave their perspectives on the Paris attacks and ISIS. Some are excerpted below.

Paris: City of light in darkness

Julia Suryakusuma,

The Jakarta Post

The first time I visited Paris I was 20, six months pregnant with my son, Aditya.

I went by car, with my brother, sister and Frans, a friend who was driving.

On the highway, we got chased by a police car. We drove into a petrol station and I got out.

The police caught up with us and asked Frans, "Do you know that you were going over the speed limit?"

"Yes, there's a pregnant woman on board and she needs to go to the toilet urgently," Frans answered calmly, pointing to me and my big belly.

The police could say nothing.

Flowers outside the French Culture Institute in Surabaya on Monday, in a tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks. According to Sin Chew Daily, peace lovers and advocates of moderation must understand the severity of the ISIS threat as well as the urgency in tackling it. - PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Since that time, I have returned to Paris alone several times - to visit friends, watch movies (Paris is one of the great film capitals in the world), walk along the Seine, visit Le Louvre, Montmartre, Centre Pompidou and other iconic Paris tourist attractions.

But at this moment, tragically, safe is not a word that I - or others - associate with Paris.

The beautiful memories of the city have been brutally ripped away and La Ville Lumiere (the City of Light) is now shrouded in darkness and sorrow after the brutal attack by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists.

No wonder, in his emotional address right after the attack, President Francois Hollande stated, "This is an act of war prepared from outside of France. France will be ruthless against the barbarians of Daech (the French word for ISIS or Daish)".

Mr Hollande wasted no time in keeping his word. In less than 24 hours after making his statement, 10 fighter planes had dropped 20 bombs on ISIS training camps in Raqqa.

Even as I was horrified by the attacks on Paris, I was also very worried by the potential repercussions of his response.

As we well know, violence begets violence.

I realise that as president of France, Mr Hollande is expected to demonstrate "strong" leadership at a time of great crisis.

Unfortunately, this is not just about France.

It's about the world and about who will be affected by the actions that Western states like France and the United States will take.

It's about the future of the world that my grandson will live in.

Ms Harleen Gambhir wrote about "The Islamic State's Trap for Europe" (Washington Post, Nov 15), about how Western states are playing into the hands of ISIS, and how protracted sectarian warfare in the Middle East is a clear and present danger to European and US safety and security at home.

So, OK, bomb Syria.

It's like trying to kill one mosquito while a gazillion others are buzzing around and being born in ever-increasing numbers.

I am really looking forward to the time when I can go visit Paris with my grandson Amartya and tell him, "Amar, this is the great nation where the notion of Liberte, egalite, fraternite originated and inspired so many other nations".

I hope that France will inspire yet again.

Seeking total domination

June Wong, The Star

The news on Nov 13 felt like double hammer blows.

ISIS' attacks in Paris and the Malaysian ISIS militants in southern Philippines' plan to form an "official" ISIS faction in South-east Asia were just plain shocking and sickening.

Back in March, I wrote about my fear of the ISIS and decried how people who profess to want to protect Islam in Malaysia were targeting the wrong people, namely non-Muslims, and particularly the Christians. It is with deep distress I return to this growing horror.

I believe our government is completely committed to fighting ISIS' influence.

It was reported last month that more than 100 suspected terrorists and militants had been detained. Among them were Malaysian combatants who had returned from Syria and Iraq, as well as army commandos and civil servants.

The Star's report that a former Universiti Malaya lecturer, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who trains suicide bombers, is behind the formation of an ISIS group that will plan attacks in Malaysia and the region is even more chilling.

More scary was Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein's revelation that the ISIS is targeting Malaysian leaders who are regarded as tagut.

Tagut, the article explains, are "those who have crossed religious boundaries", which is extremely vague.

But it would appear to mean, going by online definitions, people who worship other gods, as well as Muslims who "exceed their limits", like legislators who make laws in Parliament. They are deemed to be equating themselves with Allah and challenging Allah's divine laws.

If these are all possible meanings of tagut, then all our elected representatives and government leaders are fair game to ISIS.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin also declared that the threat will not stop them from fighting the terrorists.

Fighting the ISIS should be every citizen's responsibility, at least it should be for every citizen who still believes in a multiracial, democratic Malaysia.

At such a dangerous time, I reiterate my appeal to Muslims and non-Muslims to stand together.

Moderation v extremism


Sin Chew Daily

The ISIS attacks on Paris have decimated more than a hundred lives, tainting with bloody violence the otherwise peaceful and romantic City of Love.

The bloodthirsty brutality instantly drew the wrath of the international community, with millions praying for the French capital. But, other than condemnation and prayers, perhaps there is something else we could all do.

Because of the incident, the world got to know ISIS much better now, as the terminator of the civilised human world. ISIS is another radical outfit that has emerged in recent years after Al-Qaeda, and is by no means inferior to the latter in terms of destruction and influence.

This terror outfit now controls large swathes of land in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, larger in size than the entire Britain.

Economically, ISIS has managed to raise funds that would make all other terrorist organisations green with envy, through the sale of oil, kidnappings and other illegal activities.

If that is not enough, ISIS is very good at packaging itself to lure youngsters. Unless we can stop it, the disaster awaiting us will be unthinkable.

It is therefore an urgent task for us to decisively lash out at ISIS.

All peace lovers and advocates of moderation in the world must come to understand the severity of this issue as well as the urgency in tackling the same.

It cannot be just the job of the Americans or Europeans but the common responsibility of the world.

•The View From Asia is a weekly compilation of articles from The Straits Times' media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers. For more, see

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Countering the terror threat, together'. Print Edition | Subscribe