The late Lee Kuan Yew is known for some politically incorrect remarks about the Muslims. In fact, he was even once accused for calling Islam a ‘venomous’ religion though he rejected the WikiLeaks cable claim by saying that it was false.
In the light of the recent global attention on the ISIS, Lee Kuan Yew does have some unique insights to contribute to the topic of radical Islamic fundamentalists.
These views of his were expressed in a book about him titled “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights On China, The United States, And The World”; interviews with the press and speeches.
Here is what Lee Kuan Yew thinks about the issue of terrorism and Muslim extremists:
1) Lee Kuan Yew thinks this is a conflict between extremist Muslims and rational Muslims
According to Lee Kuan Yew, this ongoing conflict appears on the surface to be “a struggle between extremist radicals in the Muslim world on one side and America, Israel, and their Western allies on the other”.
However, if you looks deeper, this struggle is “about what Islam means between the extremist Muslims and the rationalist Muslims, between fundamentalist Muslims and modernist Muslims.”
“Eventually, the fight will boil down to one between Muslims who want to return to the Islam of the 11th century (when Islam shut out the outside world and cut itself off from new ideas) and those who want to see a modern Islam attuned to the 21st century,” he said.
2) Lee Kuan Yew believes moderate Muslims should own the problem
Lee believes the responsibility to solve this problem lies with the moderate Muslims. Quoting him, “Only the Muslims themselves, those with moderate, more modern approach to life – can fight the fundamentalists for control of the Muslim soul. Muslims must counter the terrorist ideology that is based on a perverted interpretation of Islam,”
He adds that Muslims who refuse to take on this responsibility are “ducking issue and allowing the extremists to hijack not just Islam, but the whole of the Muslim community.”
So how does he recommend moderate Muslims go about doing that?
“Muslims who want to be a part of science and technology must confront and stop these Islamists from preaching violence and hatred. They must get the Muslim scholars and religious teachers to preach that Islam is a religion of peace, not terror, and that it is tolerant of other people and their faiths,” he advised.
He observes that the majority of Muslims who are moderates are not speaking up due to two factors.
- Their sympathy for and identification with the Palestinians and anger against the Israelis, and
- Their desire for a peaceful life of growth and progress.
I guess those who believe in Martin Luther King’s quote that “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people” may agree with him.
3) Lee Kuan Yew blames Saudi Arabia for spreading radical Islam
Lee says the root cause of Islamic terrorism is not the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rather, he believes “It is not poverty, it is not deprivation, it is something more fundamental, a resurgence of Arab and Islamic pride, and a belief that their time has come,”
“After 40 years of patchy economic development, many Arabs feel anger and humiliation that their once glorious civilisation has been diminished by the West, especially America and corrupted by its licentious culture,” he explained.
The late Lee identified several leading causes and named Saudi Arabia and its oil money as one of the main culprits for the spread of radical Islam.
After the price of oil quadrupled in 1973, “Saudi Arabia has generously financed the Dakwa (missionary) movement by building mosques and religious schools (madrasahs) and paying for preachers (ulamas) throughout the world, spreading the teachings and practices of its austere version of Wahabist Islam,” he said.
This made it possible for extremists to reach and recruit from Saudi-funded mosques and madrassas.
4) The international community should support moderate Muslims in combating Islamic extremism
Lee Kuan Yew believes the international community can help to “reassure and persuade moderate Muslims” and “give moderate Muslims the courage to stand up and speak out against radicals who have hijacked Islam to recruit volunteers for their violent ends”.
By providing support, they can show moderate Muslims that “they are not going to lose, that they have the weight, the resources of the world behind them.”
This will give them the courage to “go into the mosques and matrasses and switch off the radicals”.
Lee stressed the importance of global collaboration and the importance of a “Multilateral approach
backed by the Europe, Russia, US, China, India and all non-Muslim governments to its cause, along with many moderate Muslims.”
“If the West were to reach a consensus and agree on their strategy against terrorists… together with Japan, China, and Russia, moderate Muslims who want to modernize their societies would have confidence and courage to take on the extremists and stop them from producing more terrorists.”
“When moderate Muslim governments feel comfortable associating themselves openly with a multilateral coalition against Islamist terrorism, the tide of battle will turn against the extremists,” he predicts.
5) Lee Kuan Yew thinks that killing the terrorists won’t help
Lee also suggested that a military solution was not enough on its own.
“You must use force. But force will only deal with the tip of the problem.
In killing the terrorists, you will only kill the worker bees. The queen bees are the preachers, who teach a deviant form of Islam in schools and Islamic centres, who capture and twist the minds of the young.”
To put simply, he thinks that existing efforts merely 治镖不治本 – Treats the symptoms but not the problem.
Well, these are the views of Lee Kuan Yew on Islamic terrorism.
Do you agree with his thoughts? Like and share it if you do! Let me know your views in the comments below.