When terrorists strike in Singapore, don't fear Muslims
Yesterday was Racial Harmony Day. It comes at a time when the world is seeing a spate of deadly terrorist attacks followed by revenge attacks against certain communities
If terrorists attack Singapore, what Mr Allaudin Mohamed, vice-chairman of Khalid Mosque in Joo Chiat, fears most is for his countrymen to fear him.
Because the reaction following several terrorist attacks around the globe has been reprisal attacks against the Muslim community.
In the last few years, Singapore government officials have been telling the public it is not a matter of "if" Singapore will be attacked - but "when".
And when that happens, Mr Allaudin, 63, hopes fellow Singaporeans will know that the Muslim community does not support such attacks.
He said: "Don't fear us. Come and walk with us. We only have one home. Let's work together to make Singapore our home."
ACTIVE: Mr Allaudin Mohamed is vice-chairman of Khalid Mosque and member Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle. TNP PHOTO: ARYA SHREE THAMPURAN
Mr Allaudin, 63, has been an active member of the mosque and Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) for over four decades.
But he is worried about the state of racial harmony in Singapore, following the recent slew of global terrorist attacks.
Mr Allaudin said: "I don't blame those who fear us. We must accept their concern. It is because they don't understand us."
He noted that one challenge the Muslim community faces is eradicating this fear.
He added: "I have no barriers. I champion humanity. My religion is for me, but the love of mankind is the most important.
"Breaking walls and building bridges is our topmost agenda."
He has collaborated with the Heart of God Church and Geylang United Temple to offer tuition to PSLE students of any race or religion.
This is part of a series of joint community programmes launched by the Muslim, Christian and Buddhist places of worship around Geylang Serai.
He also roped in young people of different races for the Multi-Racial Dumpling Festivalat Khalid Mosque this year, to expose them to Chinese culture.
Every year, Mr Allaudin, who is well known for his homemade briyani, hosts the President's Challenge Charity Briyani at the mosque and serves his briyani to everyone.
He said: "Whenever we cook briyani, we give it to all our non-Muslim neighbours. We also share our iftar meal (breaking of fast) with them."
Mr Allaudin has also collaborated with Chung Cheng High School to invite their Secondary 1 students to his mosque to learn about Islam.
Through these initiatives, he hopes to integrate the different races and educate the community on Muslim customs.
He added: "My main concern are youth and the lone wolf who might get influenced (by terrorist organisations)."
This is an issue close to his heart because he experienced the 1964 racial riots in Singapore.
Mr Allaudin said: "At that time, in the Joo Chiat community, the Malays and Chinese were very close. But there were rumours that an imam had been murdered by the Chinese. They had to have him announce on radio that he was alive."
He said no such murder had taken place. It was an attempt to stir racial dissent between Malays and Chinese.
Mr Allaudin said: "I have seen the evolution of the social fabric. Singapore's social fabric is a fragile thing."
Ms Nadiah Nor Zaini, 26, a nurse, is optimistic that Singapore's racial harmony is strong enough to withstand a terrorist attack.
She said: "I believe we Muslims integrate well with other races and there have been several initiatives like talks in mosques to create awareness that Islam is a peaceful religion."
Discrimination gives terrorists 'fuel'
Work together to defeat terrorism - that is Reverend Gabriel Liew's stand on terrorism.
The 56-year-old has been a pastor at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church and a Kampong Glam Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) council member for close to a decade.
On the tensions caused by recent global terrorist attacks, Reverend Liew said: "We need to unite together. We must not allow division. We must condemn acts of terrorism and work together to defeat it.
"If we discriminate against Muslims, terrorists will use it as fuel.
"We must understand that Muslims are getting killed too. We must reach out and embrace them."
He added: "Ignorance breeds fear and causes war because we fear the unknown. In the name of security, we can become bigoted and aggressive."
Reverend Liew wants to strengthen bonds between the different religious communities in Singapore.
Two days ago, he organised a trip to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's (Muis) Harmony Centre with 35 people from Methodist churches. The centre offers information about Islam and inter-faith activities.
The trip was intended to educate the community about Islam and ward off negative stereotypes.
Reverend Liew said: "We realised we have so much in common across the different religions. We all spread the message of justice, peace and compassion."
He believes violence arises when we forget this common ground that binds us.
On how the community can preserve racial harmony, he said: "We must be willing to venture out and reach out to other religions, to build trust, friendship and gain understanding of others."
Reverend Liew has also organised trips to the Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple in Jalan Bukit Merah for church members to bond with temple-goers over durian.
In the event of a terrorist attack, he said: "We must do the opposite of what terrorists expect us to do. We must stand together, affirm one another and unite to condemn this act.
"It takes moral courage to do the right thing."
Beatty Secondary School students Meenakshy Vinayan, Bao Zhi Xuan and Stacy Selvan, who are in Secondary 2, told The New Paper they often look forward to Racial Harmony Day.
LIFE LESSONS PROGRAMME
Religion is a topic covered in a life lessons programme run by the school.
Literature lessons also integrate the racial harmony message, with students discussing scripts about tolerance.
For example, Meenakshy said her class read a book about terrorism in London.
Zhi Xuan added: "These activities teach us not to generalise. We should celebrate the meaning of the word 'harmony' not just on Racial Harmony Day, but every day."
We must do the opposite of what terrorists expect us to do. We must stand together, affirm one another and unite to condemn this act. It takes moral courage to do the right thing.
- Reverend Gabriel Liew