An Indian imam is set to be repatriated from Singapore after he was fined S$4000 by a court on Monday for making controversial remarks against Jews and Christians during a sermon.
Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, chief imam at Jamae Chulia mosque, had apologised in front of Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu representatives and members of the Federation of Indian Muslims on Friday, saying he was “filled with great remorse” for the tension, inconvenience and trauma caused by his remarks.
Singapore’s home ministry said in a statement that Jameel had paid the fine and would be repatriated, Channel News Asia reported. Jameel pleaded guilty to a charge of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race during an appearance at the State Courts.
In January and February, Jameel made supplications at Friday prayers and recited an old Arabic text that originated from his village in India. The text read: “God help us against Jews and Christians.” This was not an extract from the Quran.
Police launched an investigation after a video of one sermon was posted on Facebook. It also sparked a heated debate and the minister-in-charge of Muslim affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim, had to call for peace and unity among Muslims.
After the police concluded its probe, Jameel visited Rabbi Moderchai Abergel at Maghain Aboth synagogue on Sunday and apologised to Singapore’s Jewish community, which the rabbi accepted.
The home ministry said the action against Jameel was “taken with some regret” as he had worked hard as chief imam at Jamae Chulia mosque for the past seven years. The statement said, “He has not been deliberately malicious.”
The statement further said, “Any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions…Under Singapore law, we cannot, regardless of his religion, allow anyone to preach or act divisively and justify that by reference to a religious text.”
It added, “Nevertheless, what he did was wrong...The fair and impartial application of the law protects all communities, including Muslims and other minority religious communities.”
Jameel could have been punished with up to three years in jail, a fine or both for promoting enmity between different groups. His lawyer Noor Marican said Jameel had accepted the punishment and was grateful he was not sentenced to prison.
Syed Muhammad Khairudin Aljunied, an associate professor of the National University of Singapore, was given a “stern warning” by authorities for posts on Facebook in support of the supplication that Jameel had used. The university has already suspend the academic.
Terence Kenneth John Nunis, who made public the video of Jameel’s sermon, was also given a stern warning by authorities as the public prosecutor assessed his actions were in breach of the law.