The Securitisation and Governing of Muslim Identity within Singapore's Multicultural Society

By: Nur Diyanah Anwar  

For much of the 2000s and 2010s, terror events and threats dominated many states’ security landscape, including Singapore’s. These attacks and the media coverage surrounding them had, however, disproportionately focused on Islam and “Islamic fundamentalism” as having the latent potential for violence. Therefore, many states with Muslim majorities or large Muslim minorities reassessed their domestic programmes and policies to ensure national security and social stability. In this vein, the Singapore government saw it necessary to introduce several strategies to safeguard its national security. Two examples within the Singapore context will be used to exemplify the securitisation and governing of Muslim identity within Singapore’s multicultural society. First, the “Singapore Muslim Identity” (SMI) project was an attempt by the Singapore government to prescribe a set of characteristics and values every Singaporean Muslim should adhere to. Introduced in 2002, it was aimed at fashioning a moderate Muslim identity away from the strands of radical ideologies to protect Singapore’s national security, and is still being upheld today. Second, Singapore authorities have established various efforts to counter radical ideologies and rehabilitate individuals found to be radicalised. However, these efforts have heavily focused on Islam and Muslims. The paper will assess the effects of these strategies within society – both on the Singaporean Muslim and non-Muslim communities – and discuss their relevance into the future. It will also deliberate on how Singapore can improve these efforts in moderating understanding within its multicultural society, to protect the harmony and stability Singapore enjoys.

Religious Identity State
The Politics of Religion
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Nur Diyanah Anwar


Nur Diyanah Anwar is a Senior Analyst with the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore. She attained her Master of Science in Asian Studies from RSIS, and her Bachelor of Social Science (Hons) in Political Science with a minor in Sociology from the National University of Singapore. Her focus in the Social Resilience Programme revolves around identity issues, social policies, inequality and the relations between state and society.