Imam case report handed to AGC

Mr Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel apologised to a group of leaders from various faiths at a closed-door meeting on Friday (March 31).
Mr Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel apologised to a group of leaders from various faiths at a closed-door meeting on Friday (March 31).PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

The police have completed investigations into the imam who made controversial remarks about Christians and Jews.

The investigation report has been submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers and a decision is expected to be made within a few days, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

"Once they come back to us with their position in law, then we will decide what to do," he added.

Mr Shanmugam was speaking to reporters at a seminar organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP), a day after Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, who made the remarks, apologised to a group of leaders from various faiths at a closed-door meeting.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said at another event yesterday that the apology has been well received by the Muslim community and leaders of other faiths.

The response also shows a certain sense of unity within Singapore, said Dr Yaacob, who was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar organised by self-help group Mendaki.

"It shows that the efforts we have put in over many, many years to build up ties between the inter-faith communities are bearing fruit," he added.

In February, a video was circulated online of the imam reciting a prayer in Arabic that said "God help us against Jews and Christians", among other things.

In his apology, the 47-year-old imam said that he should have practised his faith in accordance with the social norms and laws of Singapore.

"I am filled with great remorse for the inconvenience, tension and trauma that I have caused to this peaceful country."

The imam also clarified that the additional supplication which he read, "God help us against Jews and Christians", came from an old Arabic text which originated from his village in India, not from the Quran.

The apology is a welcome move, as it shows that the imam realised he had made a mistake, said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister for Communications and Information.

"It is a good step towards some form of reconciliation, not just within the Malay-Muslim community but also the wider community," he said.

"We have to wait and see whether or not the police will take the apology into account in their overall assessment of the incident."

Dr Yaacob said the incident also holds two lessons for the community.

Firstly, speakers need to consider whether what they say could affect other communities.

Secondly, leaders of different faiths must work together to discuss such issues and everyone has a role in maintaining social cohesion.

In a separate statement, AMP urged Singaporeans to move forward from the incident.

The association also called on Singaporeans not to allow differences in opinion on the matter to cause divisions.

"Islam, like all other religions, enjoins peace and kindness towards others," it said.

The incident also highlights the important role of religious leaders in understanding the sensitivities unique to a multicultural and multireligious society like Singapore, it added.

"When taken out of context, many religious verses or texts may be misconstrued and misunderstood, leading to division and splintering within the community."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Imam case report handed to AGC'. Print Edition | Subscribe