SINGAPORE: The most recent cases of young self-radicalised Singaporeans – two auxiliary police officers and an infant-care assistant – “strike close to home”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday (Jun 20), as he called on the Malay-Muslim community to stand together with the Government in tackling the influence of radicalism and extremism.
Mr Lee also cautioned against Islamophobia, adding that the issue was also about how the other communities react to the cases, and respond to Muslims in Singapore.
Singaporean auxiliary police officer Muhammad Khairul Mohamed, 24, was detained under the Internal Security Act for planning to take part in armed violence in Syria. His colleague at AETOS, Mohamad Rizal Wahid, 36, was put under a restriction order for supporting Khairul’s intentions to fight in Syria.
Earlier this month, infant-care assistant Syaikhah Izzah Zahrah Al Ansari, 22, was detained for planning to join the Islamic State group, making her the first female Singaporean to be detained for radicalism.
“I think it will cause some anxiety, both among the Muslim community, because they will worry that they are coming under the spotlight, and also among the non-Muslim community,” Mr Lee told reporters on the sidelines of an iftar, or breaking of fast event at Tanglin Police Division headquarters.
Noted that Khairul and Rizal were auxiliary police officers, he said: “It’s necessary for us to remind ourselves that, in fact, AETOS, Certis Cisco, the Home Team, SPF (Singapore Police Force) – they have been doing an outstanding job keeping Singapore safe.
“That’s one of the reasons why I decided to come and do iftar here today – to show my support for the Home Team and my confidence in the Home Team,” Mr Lee said.
ISLAMOPHOBIA AS UNACCEPTABLE AS EXTREMIST RADICAL TERRORISM: PM LEE
The Prime Minister said he planned to meet Malay-Muslim community leaders next month, to update them on the happenings on the terrorism front globally and in Singapore, and to touch base with them.
“Particularly here, after the AETOS case and the infant-care (case), I think it’s necessary that people have the reassurance, have the confidence, and know that we’re in this together, and we’re dealing with this together, as we have done,” Mr Lee said.
The meeting, he said, would be followed by a session with community leaders from all the different races. “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.”
“It’s Islamophobia,” Mr Lee said. “Maybe you can say that, well, you can understand the psychology of it.
“But 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.
He also reiterated that when it comes to the threat of terror attacks, Singapore works on the basis of “when” rather than “whether”. “But we make sure we’re as well prepared as we possibly can be, for when it happens in Singapore,” Mr Lee said.