2017-04-06 14:58:00

Singapore expels Imam for offensive remarks against Christians, Jews

(Vatican Radio) An Islamic religious leader from India was to be repatriated from Singapore on April 6 folowing offensive remarks he reportedly made against Christians and Jews during a Friday sermon.  Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel was handed a fine of S$ 4,000 at the State Courts on April 3 after he pleaded guilty to committing the offence in his sermon on Jan. 6 at the Jamae Chulia Mosque in Singapore, where he was chief imam. The 46-year old imam was reported to have recited a prayer in Arabic that said, "God help us against Jews and Christians", among other things. 

A video of the prayer was circulated online in February, causing concern in the Muslim community as well as the wider public, and prompting a police investigation.  Under the Penal Code, Jameel could have been jailed for up to three years, fined or both.  The court papers said: "The accused knew what the words meant and knew that the phrase may also be interpreted as asking God to grant Muslims victory against the Jews and Christians." 

Jameel met representatives of Singapore’s Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu communities earlier on March 31 and clarified that the additional prayer he read was not from the Quran, but an old Arabic text originating from his village in India.   He however apologized saying he was "filled with great remorse" for the inconvenience, tension and trauma caused by his remarks.  Jameel had also visited Rabbi Moderchai Abergel at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue April 2 to apologize, local media reported. The Rabbi accepted the imam's apology and emphasized the need to be constantly conscious of Singapore's delicate harmonious co-existence, given its diversity.

Shortly after the hearing, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that the imam would be repatriated. The phrase he recited, it added, "was and is unacceptable in a multiracial and multi-religious society."  "Any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions," the MHA said.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore said in a statement that Nalla's supplication "is not from the Quran and does not constitute part of the divine message". The Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) of Singapore, in a statement issued April 1, urged Singaporeans to move forward from the incident, and not allow differences in opinion on the matter to cause divisions.

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