Radicalisation is not new - but finding a solution is not easy

Fanaticism and radicalisation exist in every belief system, whether religious or secular, and are politicised by certain parties for ulterior gain (Islamophobia as bad and unacceptable as terrorism, says PM Lee; June 21).

Recruits are easily brainwashed and blinded by groupthink. They are mere pawns and fodder in the fight for dominance.

However, they are also the victims of ignorance and gullibility.

The challenge we face is how to inoculate people, particularly our young, against the images of glamour and glory of becoming martyrs for a cause.

There is no panacea. A multidimensional understanding is essential.

We could gain illuminating insights by studying past incidents of fanaticism, such as the Red Guards movement of Mao's Cultural Revolution, Hitler's Nazis, and the Jonestown massacre or Waco siege that involved religious cults.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Radicalisation is not new - but finding a solution is not easy'. Print Edition | Subscribe