Within a short span of a week or two, Singapore saw its second incident of arrests relating to radicalism or terrorism.
Unfortunately, the arrests involved members from the Muslim community.
Last week, a female infant caregiver was a preschool was detained for intending to travel to Syria to join the ISIS.
Yesterday, an Auxiliary Police Officer from AETOS was detained for his desire to engage in armed violence in Syria, while his colleague was given a Restriction Order for supporting him.
So this begs a question for Singapore. Would hiring non-Muslim officers solve the problem in the case of the two AETOS officers?
The answer is clear and simple? Just hiring non-Muslim officers in order to guard against radicalism is just plain discriminatory and Islamophobic. And the result is division among race and religious communities.
Speaking on the arrest of the Aetos officer, Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam said he was not sure that any vetting process would have picked up signs of the officer’s radical views or actions when he joined in 2015.
Beyond just the uniformed security positions, if Muslim job applicants are to be screened or vetted differently or more rigorously than non-Muslim applicants, this will surely cause even more division amongst the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
Islamophobia not only creates a divide among communities, but also radicals of the other extreme as well, like in the case of London’s Finsbury Park incident where a man drove a van into Muslims leaving a mosque after prayers.
Not only do we have to prevent such an ideology from taking root in our communities, but we should all play a part to help make our friends from every religion and community feel accepted.
We have a pledge in Singapore. And it is our duty to “pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion”.