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Q & A of SM's interview with Newsweek int'l editor Fareed Zakaria


Q: What do you make of the European-American divide?

A: The Europeans underestimate the problem of Al Qaeda-style terrorism. They think that the United States is exaggerating the threat. They compare it to their own many experiences with terror - the IRA, the Red Brigade, the Bader Meinhof, ETA. But they are wrong.

Al Qaeda-style terrorism is new and unique because it is a global in its spread across peoples and continents. An event in Morocco can excite the passions of extremist groups in Indonesia. There is a shared fanatical zealousness among these different Muslim extremists around the world. That makes this a unique threat.

Many Europeans think they can finesse the problem, that if they don't upset the Muslim countries and treat Muslims in their countries well, the terrorists won't target them. But look at South East Asia. Muslims have prospered here. But still Muslim extremism and militancy have infected them.

Muslim extremists target Singapore because we uncovered and made public in December 2001 the Jemaah Islamiyah threat to the region. But we have done nothing to harm Muslims. Similarly, Muslim extremists had planned to bomb targets in Thailand although the Thai government did them no harm.

Americans, however, make the mistake of seeking a largely military solution. You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem. In killing the terrorists, you will kill the worker bees.

The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centers, who capture and twist the minds of the young." Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, one of the plotters of the Bali bombing, was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court. On hearing the sentence he said, "I'll be happy to die a martyr. After me there will be a million Amrozis."

On the other hand, Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual head of Jama Islamiya, who churns out these kinds of people, was acquitted on the serious charges and was convicted on minor offenses for a four-year term. Men like Bashir are the real force behind the terror.

Q: How can this deeper problem be handled?

A: Well, you can't do it alone," he said immediately. "You can't go into the mosques, Islamic centers, and madrassahs. We have no standing as non-Muslims, no legitimacy. Your barging in will create havoc. Only Muslims can enter these religious sanctuaries to cut off these heretical preachers and win this struggle.




HOME at Sculpture Square  30 Oct - 21 Dec 2003

Land Of Joy  6 - 30 Nov 2003

Unpacking London - an exhibition  6 - 29 Nov 2003

Inspiring Artistes: Lieder, Arias & Operettas by Soprano Cornelia Zach (Austria)  29 Nov 2003

Singapore Buskers' Festival  15 - 23 Nov 2003

PPAS organises 2 holiday camps for kids! 24-26, 26-28 Nov 2003

Ling Chung The Dragon - by Tam Tam Theatre (London)  4-14 Dec 2003

LimpBiskit - Rollin Live in Singapore  3 Dec 2003

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NEW WEB SITES  is the first comprehensive FTA web-site put up by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and is designed to be a one-stop platform on all matters relating to Singapore's FTAs.

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Public Holidays CHRISTMAS DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on 25 December 2003.


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29 November 2003

Singapore Time