Integration Keeps Extremism from Taking Root

The Muslim community here must feel that they are a part of Singapore and fully accepted as equal citizens to keep Islamist extremism from taking hold, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday (27 Nov).
During a 45-minute dialogue that followed his S. Rajaratnam Lecture on foreign affairs, Mr Lee said the downtrodden situation of some Muslim communities in other countries is a reason, although not a justification,  "to think dangerous thoughts".
Noting that Singapore is "a peaceful, harmonious and cohesive society”, he felt there is “less trigger".
He was responding to a question from Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh on how the Singapore Government can deal with the influence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group in the region.
Mr Lee also noted that the Government's policy of ethnic quotas in public housing - which also gives rise to an ethnic mix in schools as students are allocated geographically - works to prevent the formation of enclaves where "despair and alienation" can arise.
He also credited the role played by Muslim community and religious leaders in Singapore in speaking out against extreme Islamist teachings, something that is rare in other countries.
"This is very precious because in many countries, when governments try to work with religious leaders, the worry is that leaders lose their flock and become irrelevant," he added.
PM Lee also acknowledged that Singapore's Religious Rehabilitation Group, which counsels terror detainees and counters radical ideology, has done good work.  
He also noted that the vigilance of the community in monitoring and reporting those who seem to be influenced by extremist ideology has thwarted terror plots in Singapore.
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Source: 'Integration keeps Islamist extremism from taking root' (The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2015)

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