Few trends have induced more fear than the conversion of seemingly normal individuals into terrorists reveling in the murder of innocents, whether on hitherto peaceful city streets or in the midst of the Islamic State’s war in Syria and Iraq. Even as Asian leaders try to convince their populations that these are other people’s wars, some Muslims from Southeast Asia have responded to the call to arms, with the internet appearing to play a role in their radicalization. Popular perception of these developments has been shaped by security analysts and scholars specializing in counter-terrorism. Farish A. Noor, a scholar at one of Asia’s leading centres for security studies, warns that the security lens has distorted our understanding of the interactions between religion, politics and communication. A political scientist and historian, his research has focused on religio-political movements in South and Southeast Asia. He talked to Media Asia editor Cherian George about current fears over radical Islam in Southeast Asia.
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