TL;DR – Islamophobia is as bad and as unacceptable as extremist radical terrorism.
Recently, we are reminded how vital it is that we keep our eye on the ball regarding security issues. According to a statement by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), an auxiliary police officer who was deployed to Woodlands Checkpoint has been detained for planning to travel to Syria to take part in armed violence, while his colleague has been put under a restriction order for supporting him.
Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, an auxiliary officer with AETOS, is a Singaporean. He was self-radicalised as early as 2012, before he joined AETOS.
MHA’s statement said:
“He developed the view that the conflict in Syria was a sectarian struggle between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam, and being a Sunni Muslim, he wanted to fight against the Shi’ites in Syria by joining the Free Syrian Army.”
Khairul was deemed a security threat to Singapore because of he was eager and ready to resort to violence in the pursuit of a religious cause.
Colleague put under a restriction order
Khairul’s colleague, Mohamad Rizal Wahid, was put under a restriction order last month for supporting Khairul’s intentions to fight in Syria. A person issued with a restriction order (RO) under the Internal Security Act (ISA) is not allowed to move, change jobs, or travel out of Singapore without the authorities’ approval.
Since 2015, Rizal had known that Khairul wanted to take part in armed violence in Syria after the latter repeatedly confided in him about his intentions. Not only did Rizal fail to notify the authorities and AETOS management, Rizal even suggested to Khairul various ways to get to Syria.
What about that imam in the title of this post?
That imam (a Islamic religious teacher) has nothing to do with MHA’s statement.
But it’s relevant.
It’s to do with the terrorist attack in London where someone drove a van into a crowd. That terrorist killed one man, and injured 11 other people. He has been identified to be Darren Osborne. He was born in Singapore.
Darren wasn’t Muslim. He wanted to kill Muslims. That’s why he drove the van into a crowd of Muslims as they left a mosque after their prayers. He was heard shouting “I want to kill all Muslims” as he drove the van into the crowd. When he was caught by the crowd of Muslims, he was heard shouting “Kill me!” The crowd was, understandably, angry. They pinned him to the ground and kicked him.
That’s when Imam Mohammed Mahmoud stepped in to protect Darren. Stepping between the furious crowd and Darren, Imam Mohammed shouted to the crowd:
“Do not touch him!”
His actions in shielding the driver are said to have quietened a potentially dangerous situation. Speaking to the media later on Monday, the imam downplayed his actions, insisting that he had not acted alone. He said:
“There were a group of brothers who were calm and collected and managed to calm people down and to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that would have taken charge had this group of mature brothers not stepped in. By God’s grace, he’s not hurt.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, UK’s senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing praised the members of the public who helped in the immediate aftermath:
“Their restraint in the circumstances is commendable.”
Don’t tar everyone with the same brush
There are terrorists who use religion as an excuse to commit atrocities. They may call themselves Muslims or Christians, or Buddhists, but they aren’t. They are extremists. They seek to incite chaos, divide society, and rip asunder our precious social fabric. We cannot let them.
That’s why we must not let a few rotten eggs affect how we feel an entire community.
That’s why Minister Shanmugam said:
“I think it would be very wrong to suggest that employers start vetting Muslims candidates in a different way. That will have the very opposite effect of what you want.”
Indeed, Islamophobia is just as unacceptable as extreme radical terrorism. In response to these incidents, PM Lee also said:
“It’s not just the Malay-Muslim community, but it’s also how the other communities react to this, and respond to the Muslims in Singapore… Islamophobia is as bad and as unacceptable as extremist radical terrorism. And we have to make sure that none of that happens, either because of neglect, or because somebody is circulating materials which stoke fear and apprehension, and worsen the situation.”
We must constantly remind ourselves that terrorists aren’t representative of their religion. And we need to constantly remind ourselves that Imam Mohammed is more representative of Islam.
If we can do that, then the terrorists won’t succeed.
(Featured image via Metro)