Poverty not the reason for extremism

Experts must be careful not to over-generalise the cause of extremism or fundamentalism ("Grow economy to curb fundamentalism: Expert"; Feb 3).

There is little evidence to confidently conclude that extremism is due to poverty.

No matter what governments do, there will always be those who get left behind.

There are millions of poor people in places like India, Africa and China.

But they are not massing together to kill or maim.

Many just want to make a decent living and bring up their families.

The root of extremism lies in the intentional misapplication or distortion of religious thought by the wicked and ambitions to seduce, mislead and entrap the naive and innocent, including professionals.

Every country wants to grow its economy to fight the many "non-spiritual" ills and give its citizens a decent life.

It is going to be a long haul for many countries.

But let us not label poverty as the reason for people turning to extremism.

Drawing the wrong conclusion is dangerous and a gross insult to the poor in general and the religious in particular.

Lim Ang Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2017, with the headline 'Poverty not the reason for extremism'. Print Edition | Subscribe