UPDATE 3rd April 2017 – Imam fined S$4,000 for promoting enmity with remarks on Christians, Jews, and will be repatriated back to India according to MHA.
SINGAPORE – The Singapore Police Force have completed their investigations into the Imam who made a disparaging remark on Christians and Jews. The investigation report is pending submission to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and “a decision is expected to be made soon”, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Saturday (April 1).
Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel had allegedly made a controversial remark against Christian and Jews during his one of his sermon. He has made an apology on Friday (March 31), to a group made up of representatives of the Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu faiths as well as members of the Federation of Indian Muslims, according to his lawyer Noor Marican.
The Imam said that he was “filled with great remorse” and emphasised that the remarks “God help us against Jews and Christians” were not from the Quran, but from an old text that originated from his village in India.
The Imam first came under fire when a video of him asking for “victory” over Christians and Jews was uploaded to a Facebook page, “A Muslim Convert Once More” by an individual who signed off as Terence Helikoan Nunis.
Mr Nunis claimed in his post that the imam had made such a remark during both his January 6 and February 24 sermons, adding that “Islam is not at war with people of other faiths … This is an unbecoming relic of a different age. We should not encourage this sort of thinking or condone this sort of supplications.” A police report was lodged against the imam, and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) then put the Imam on leave.
The remarks from the imam caused a social media storm. A debate over the actions of the poster had also begun, with some praising the poster for his actions while others criticised the poster for uploading the video to Facebook even after informing authorities.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, took to Facebook to address the issue, urging the Muslim community to “take a step back and reflect”, adding that in such circumstances going to the authorities instead of social media would be a better idea.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam had also mentioned in Parliament on March 3 that religious preaching which instigates violence or pits one religion against another will not be condoned in Singapore. He said this was because “matters like this have the potential to escalate, with people jumping in, opinions being formed, hardened, along religious lines.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs told media that they acknowledged the apology but it “is not appropriate to comment at this juncture because investigations are not finalised.” MUIS recognised the imam’s apology but did not wish to comment till investigations were over as well.
While the Imam has apologised, he may still face charges based on the Racial Harmony Act and the Sedition Act.
Here is the full transcript of the Imam’s apology:
To all Singaporeans.
I am filled with great remorse for the inconvenience, tension and trauma that I have caused to this peaceful country.
My actions were not complementary to the ethos and essence of this young yet great nation.
What I did, was done within the limitations of my personal exposure and adaptability. I had recited the additional supplication in Arabic, which was taken from an old text that originated from my village in India. It was not an extract from the Holy Quran.
As a resident here from a foreign land, I should have practised my faith in accordance with, and appropriate to, the social norms and laws of this country. I fully admit that my said actions have no place, wheresoever, in this extremely multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
This episode has educated and enlightened me, and I am deeply thankful to God for this realisation. I am also very relieved that the society has remained calm. I am glad that the Police had given me the full opportunity to explain myself during the investigations.
I fully respect the laws of the land and appreciate the concerns of her people. I am truly sorry that I had offended you, and I must bear full responsibility for my actions, as part of my duty to all Singaporeans and residents.