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What has gone wrong with our society?

  • Anything done in the name of religion will be perceived as politically correct, and will influence and even control our society. The more conservative the teachings, the more will they win the trust of their followers and be elevated into a powerful political force.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Mohd Rafi Udin, Md Saifuddin Muji and Jasanizam Rosni: How different are these people from ordinary people? What are the common traits among them?

They look no different from anyone in the street. Nibras and Rohan were from exceptional family backgrounds and were highly educated. They loved soccer, taking selfies and making friends. Mohd Rafi used to be a taxi driver, and was married with five children, while Saifuddin and Jasanizam were blue-collar night market hawkers.

They nevertheless have one thing in common: They're all IS terrorists.

Nibras and Rohan, the suspects in the Dhaka terror attack, both used to study at a private university here in Malaysia, majoring in business administration. Whichever way we looked at them, they didn't look like terrorists-to-be at all.

Mohd Rafi gave up his taxi driver career and family to join IS in Syria. In a video clip he was seen personally lopping off the head of a captive. He also called for his supporters here to launch terror war in Malaysia and is seen as the apparent commander of the IS cell in Malaysia.

Saifuddin and Jasanizam are good buddies who used to make a living hawking at night markets. Late last Tuesday, they tossed a hand grenade into a shop in Puchong in the first such attack by the IS in this country.

Different family and education backgrounds. Different professions and extent of their religious faith. But they have all chosen to be IS operatives.

Is there anything wrong anywhere? This is what our police, government and anti-terror experts need to find out.

The genes in their bodies, their real-life experiences, the persons they came into contact with... definitely there are parts that are similar. It's like a switch which once initiated will put them under firm control, converting them from ordinary individuals into blood-thirsty devils devoted to extremism.

We are no specialists and do not have enough information to deduce their reasons for becoming terrorists.

But in social psychology, the environment to which a person is exposed will most definitely influence his or her behavior. The more occluded and radical the environment, the more likely a normal person's characters will get distorted, inducing him or her to act irrationally and inhumanly.

Religious ideologies began to find their way into this country from Mahathir's time in the 1980s. The political rivalry between Umno and PAS reflect in their relative extent of Islamization, resulting in the rise of Islamism.

Anything done in the name of religion will be perceived as politically correct, and will influence and even control our society. The more conservative the teachings, the more will they win the trust of their followers and be elevated into a powerful political force.

Before we know it, religious control may even transcend beyond the extent of control of the government and political parties to become a formidable entity that seeps into government agencies, NGOs and every nook and corner of our society right down to our nerves.

These changes have over the span of three decades transformed the country and coupled with the changes taking place in the international community have become the greatest challenges facing the human race in our time.

While our government, political parties and government agencies have loudly slammed the IS, they have nevertheless condoned or even nurtured elements of extremism, allowing terrorism to grow and expand.

 

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