【明報專訊】On JULY 1 a man stabbed a police officer with a knife before committing suicide. The authorities claimed that the incident was an act of local terrorism. The National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force is investigating whether the man had any accomplices. Yesterday (July 4), two people were arrested by the authorities on suspicion of inciting others to kill police officers online.
The stabbing was not elaborately planned, but it is certain that the attacker did not ''snap'' at the scene and commit the crime in a rush of anger. It has been revealed that the attacker did not have a criminal conviction and did not have any unsettled scores with the police officer who was attacked. He had left several suicide notes, mentioning that he was dissatisfied with the police's law enforcement and stating clearly that he intended to kill a police officer before committing suicide. The police searched his home and found some promotional materials for social activism. One of the attacker's colleagues was quite shocked by the case, describing him as a quiet man who seldom discussed politics at work.
As a common word, ''terrorism'' is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ''the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims''. However, in Europe and the US, some politically-motivated attacks on police and military personnel in recent years have often been characterised as terrorist attacks. Very often, the attackers were not directly affiliated with any terrorist organisation, but were radicalised local people instigated by online hate speech. Such attacks were therefore classified as acts of local terrorism. As for the means of attack, bombs are not necessarily used. Sometimes a knife or a car is sufficient. In recent years, stabbings of police officers have happened repeatedly in France in what have been described as acts of local terrorism. Such attackers do not look out of place in their daily lives. Since they often act alone when committing crimes, they are called ''lone wolves''.
There are many disagreements in academia about what is meant by terrorism, and it is not uncommon for public views to be influenced by political stances. However, the nature of an incident remains unchanged regardless of whether a specific term is accepted.
Over the past two years, Hong Kong's political situation has changed again and again. However, the fact that one is dissatisfied with, angry at or even depressed about the way things are does not mean that one has reason to resort to extreme violence. Violence will only cause destruction. When one party resorts to violence, the other party will not stay its hand. There will not be a limit to their struggles.
It has been one year since the National Security Law for Hong Kong was implemented. Apple Daily has ceased publication, there was not a candlelight vigil on June 4, and there was not a demonstration on July 1. The authorities have emphasised that they have acted in accordance with the law. Some people, however, think that their freedom of expression has been curbed. The atmosphere of political repression makes some people feel breathless. The powers that be need to face general public sentiments squarely. However, there are many micro-level explanations for why a specific person is depressed. There is no necessary causation between dissatisfaction with the political situation, depression and resorting to extreme violence. Facing the new era and new situation, Hong Kong needs a new discourse at macro level in order to let people see the way forward ideologically and avoid taking the wrong path of radicalisation.
明報社評 2021.07.05：提防恐怖主義滋長 美化暴力遺禍無窮
■/ Glossary 生字 /
stay your hand：to stop yourself from doing sth; to prevent you from doing sth
to stop happening or existing; to stop sth from happening or existing
the powers that be：the people who control a situation