Instilling fear into the society is an incredibly delicate, risky and serious matter – one that needs to be handled with utmost care and consideration.
Some would say it’s being done as a way of alarming the people to be safe and alert, while others will say it should only be done if there’s a real need to do so i.e. when there’s a substantial proof that the public needs to be made aware.
On Thursday, 4 May, local Hong Kong news broadcaster South China Morning Post published an article which shook not only the people of Hong Kong but the international public as it said Hong Kong police on alert for terror threat from lone wolves inspired by Islamic State.
The article had a share amounting to nearly 20,000 with many other news media including RT sourcing it on their channels. Now, when one reads the title, it’s undoubtedly strikes worry in a city which has had none of such activity. However, as you click on the article and read, the subtitle itself is sufficient to know for any sane person that such news is totally unnecessary for they admit there is no concrete evidence:
Anti-terrorist police say extremists may already be lurking in the city, although they have received no intelligence indicating a specific threat.
The article goes further to state the inconsistency and the clear case of unreliability of the matter at hand.
Police on Wednesday said the danger was real, but the city’s terrorism threat level remained moderate as there was no specific intelligence indicating an imminent attack or Hong Kong being targeted.
If there is no intelligence data of a threat to Hong Kong, then the question arises is why create this sense of insecurity? How does this help the public to remain calm? Security consultant and former police superintendent Clement Lai Ka-chi, who helped form the elite Counter Terrorism Response Unit during his time on the force, said:
“The force is afraid of speaking about terrorism openly as it might cause alarm.”
With all due respect, the article has done exactly what Mr. Lai said the police force don’t want to do – causing alarm.
Read Also: Muslims ‘shouldn’t have to apologise for IS’, says Hong Kong Islamic group leader, calling for solidarity from all faiths
Now, if one even tries to understand the intention and motive behind this news, which as stated is due to the increase of lone wolf attacks elsewhere and that Hong Kong is seen as a global hub, it still doesn’t justify this type of news publication being the best approach to handle this extremely sensitive matter.
Muslim Council of Hong Kong was unsurprisingly disturbed by this article as this is exactly what happened in March, 2015 too, when there were reports of ISIS activity in Hong Kong, though there was no firm proof.
At that time, the Council wrote a letter of peace and managed to bring more than 20 Islamic organisations in Hong Kong came together to show its stance towards this lack of credibility in reporting.
With this latest news, the Council decided to acquire the views of local Hong Kong Muslims. It also observed the comments being left on the SCMP’s article to deem how the public (Muslims and Non-Muslims) is reacting. Furthermore, the Council also conversed with two police officers who deal with the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong to put forward its concerns.
The local Hong Kong Muslims were naturally saddened, frustrated and even annoyed by such news. There were some who felt that Muslims are being victimised and this is a global trend where it’s becoming easy to connect Islam to terrorism, when if one reads Islam’s stance on extremism it’s absolutely clear – forbidden.
While majority of the Muslims are working hard to be law-abiding citizens and boosting the city’s economy, such news doesn’t help the community.
Others made it clear such news will only further serve the goal of the extremists as it creates needless panic and even severs the society, which is already divided in so many other fronts.
When the Council conveyed their concerns to two public relations police officers who they are regularly in touch with, the officers explained the police force had to be prepared for all types of situations considering the global outset.
The Council were in agreement of such a move with this intention, however it again reiterated the manner of handling the issue has caused worry and it’s in fact unhealthy for the ethnic minority community. The officers expressed their understanding and said they will bring our concerns to their uppers.
On the SCMP’s article itself, below were comments left by Muslims and Non-Muslims alike questioning the purpose and aim of this issue being addressed in such a way.
User JayB said:
The “terrorism” hysteria is just what it is, hysteria. In US, the #1 country with the most “terrorism” hysteria, more Americans were killed in one year due to gun violence than ALL “terrorism” attacks combined since 9/11. Yet, gun violence is accepted as a way of life in the US, no “anti gun” experts, “anti gun” screening. In fact, many states have laws/constitution banning “anti gun” legislation. Speaking for HKG, more HKers are killed by diabetes, obesity, tobacco in a single day than this so called “terrorism”.
Another user Muppetmayhem agreed with JayB and further stated:
The war on terror is a bunch of nonsense and is a pre text used to take away the freedoms of law abiding citizens as well as monitor them.
On Facebook, Abdo Ali showed his irritation:
And there others too who weren’t buying into this scaremongering:
Lucie Auclair made it clear not to mix Islam with terrorism:
To finish off, the Muslims of Hong Kong would like the message from the Letter of Peace to be nailed into everyone. We humbly urge all communities to stand firm with compassion and solidarity for all acts of violence upon innocents in every single land. We must not let these terrorists from any part of the world divide us. Let us not play into their evil narrative, and instead show them that people of all faiths and backgrounds can live peacefully together.