A Worrying Trend by Lieutenant Colonel Fathol Zaman Bukhari (Retired)
Thursday, May 16, 2019
From The Ipoh Echo : The propensity to support and tolerate terrorist activities by Malay-Muslim extremists is worrying indeed. Coming in the wake of the Islamic State-inspired bombings in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, April 21, it does not augur well for the country.
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This is despite the outcome of a recent survey stating that Muslims in Malaysia have a low tendency for violence in furthering their religious belief.
Academician Faisal S Hazis who did a joint survey on tolerance and susceptibility to extremism in Southeast Asia said 28 per cent of Malaysian Muslims exhibited “violence-receptive” tendencies, meaning that they did not reject violence.
Respondents, said Hazis, justified the use of violence in the name of Islam. However, only two per cent of the 823 respondents polled said they would participate in violent extremism.
The study by the Merdeka Centre was conducted across four Southeast Asian countries namely, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It included both Muslim and non-Muslim respondents.
The survey covered two areas of extremism: violent extremism and “self-sacrificial tendencies” or the willingness to sacrifice their lives to defend Islam. Malaysia and Thailand recorded the highest levels of self-sacrificial tendencies.
Merdeka Centre too found that support for global and regional terror groups was present in all four countries surveyed, the highest in Malaysia at 18.1 per cent.
Support for the Islamic State was also highest in Malaysia. This is worrying indeed.
Professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the research provided compelling evidence that the Southeast Asian region, including Malaysia, demonstrated “increasing degrees of extremism” although the levels were still considered moderate. “Extremist-like behaviour in Malaysia has been creeping into the state. Part of it has encroached into the government and universities.”
The research too found that those who condone violent extremism normally have little money.
They believed that suicide bombing is encouraged in Islam, and felt that there was discrimination against Islam.
The research recommended an audit to determine and refine religious narratives in education and sermons to see if they breach current religious dictates.
Using former militants who had been de-radicalised and have integrated into society to educate the public and raise awareness was also an effective way to counter extremism, the research recommended.
At the tail end of the Malayan Emergency Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) were extensively used to educate people on the evils of communist terrorism. Perhaps this is a way out. The other is the introduction of a multi-faith education to reduce the levels of ignorance and intolerance among Muslims towards non-Muslims.