Vital to stand with Malay-Muslim community

An "attacker" (centre) trying to "stab" someone during Exercise Heartbeat at 313@Somerset yesterday.
An "attacker" (centre) trying to "stab" someone during Exercise Heartbeat at 313@Somerset yesterday.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Terrorism used to be events we read about occurring in distant places, but this is no longer so.

Given the announced withdrawal of American troops from Syria, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is now ready to spring and occupy the vacuum once the US departs, the same way the vacuum in Iraq was occupied after the United States vacated it in 2011.

To this end, ISIS will need a new supply of manpower.

South-east Asia is now at greater risk of becoming a prime recruiting ground and an operational theatre for ISIS.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira rightly pointed out that it is vital we "stand together with our Malay-Muslim community" (Terrorism a threat to multiracial harmony, says MP; Jan 19).

This is especially so during these precarious times when the time-honoured strategy of divide and conquer is evidently being deployed by the terrorists.

ISIS has not only managed to sow discord among the people, but between people and their elected governments too, as governments are deemed incompetent in safeguarding them from one terrorist act after another.

Furthermore, the anti-Muslim sentiment stoked by ISIS' actions plays right into the terrorists' hands.

Bans have come into place against Islamic wear in Europe, and 2016 saw anti-Muslim rhetoric surge with American political campaigners unreservedly taking aim at Muslims.

To prevent such polarisation in Singapore, our Government's repeated and astute calls for non-Muslims to stand with our Malay-Muslim community must be heeded, lest we, too, fall prey to ISIS' tactics and end up driving our citizens into the arms of terrorists.

To underestimate ISIS is a complacency none can afford.

Lily Ong (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2019, with the headline 'Vital to stand with Malay-Muslim community'. Print Edition | Subscribe