Singapore to deport Indian imam for divisive remarks
Singapore: Singapore plans to deport an Islamic scholar from India for promoting enmity between different religious groups.
A court has fined Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, who has been living in the city state, 4,000 Singapore dollars for his remarks against Jews and Christians.
The 47-year-old imam had pleaded guilty to the charge. The Singapore government has said there was no room for such remarks in a multi-religious society and he should be sent home.
“Nalla has paid the fine. He will be repatriated,” Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement on April 3.
The imam, an Islamic religious teacher, had recited a supplication in Arabic during a prayer session at a mosque in January, which translated as “Grant us help against the Jews and Christians,” court documents showed. A video of his remarks — uploaded on Facebook in February by another person – triggered legal action.
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.”
“Recent events abroad have highlighted how the build-up of anger and resentment among different religious groups can lead to social friction and violence,” the interior ministry of Singapore said. “The government has the responsibility to act quickly and firmly to repudiate divisive speech, even if the course of action is sometimes difficult.”
Singapore is mainly an ethnic Chinese society, with large Malay Muslim and Indian populations, report ndtv.com.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur said Singapore “cannot allow any person or group to sow discord or promote enmity among the different religious or racial groups when we have worked so hard as a society to achieve religious and racial harmony.”
The judge said she imposed only a fine considering the “strong sense of remorse” shown by Nalla, who has apologized to different religious leaders and even visited a Jewish rabbi to offer his personal regrets.
The imam’s lawyer Noor Marican was quoted as saying that Nalla has accepted the punishment and is grateful that he was not sentenced to prison.
“Today he has learnt his lesson. Hopefully the inter-faith community and all Singaporeans can move forward,” he told reporters outside the court.
The Association of Muslim Professionals, in a statement on April 1, urged Singaporeans to move forward from the incident, and not allow differences in opinion on the matter to cause divisions.
“Islam, like all other religions, enjoins peace and kindness towards others, and our religion is what should unite us as a community,” said the statement.