An Indian imam who made offensive remarks about Jews and Christians has been fined and told he will be deported from Singapore and repatriated to India.
Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel pleaded guilty to promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds, and committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony, the Straits Times reports.
“Nalla has paid the fine. He will be repatriated,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) announced in a statement late on Monday, according to Channel News Asia. He was handed a fine of Singaporean dollars 4,000 (USD 2,860).
“Any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions,” the MHA statement continued.
“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 said.
In February, a video was circulated online of the imam reportedly reciting a prayer in Arabic that said, “God help us against Jews and Christians”. The comment was made as part of a wide-ranging address.
The incident came under police investigation after a video of the sermon was posted on Facebook. It sparked heated debate in Singapore’s conservative religious communities, prompting Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim to call for peace and unity in the Muslim community.
The Economic Times reports Jameel’s lawyer Noor Marican was quoted as saying that the imam has accepted the punishment and is grateful that he was not sentenced to prison. Watch his announcement outside the court below:
In a written apology submitted to the court, Jameel said that the chant he quoted was taken from a text he found at his village.
“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 Koran,” he said. “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.”
Nalla had been resident in Singapore since 2010 on a work permit.
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