An Indian national Imam has been fined $4,000 for making offensive remarks about Christians and Jews during his Friday sermons at a mosque in Singapore on 6 January. Moreover, the 46-year-old, who was charged with the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race, is likely to be deported back to his native country.
A video of Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel's comments that was uploaded on social media by an Investment associate Terence Nunis sparked widespread debate. In the clip, the imam was seen saying a prayer after a sermon at Jamae Mosque in South Bridge Road. The imam, who is believed to be from South India, was heard using the Arabic word "fanswurna" when he spoke about Christians and Jews. "Fanswurna" means "to overcome" or "to grant victory over" in relation to other religions.
In a press release on Monday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that Nalla has paid the fine and will be repatriated. "Any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions," MHA said. "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."
The Imam has apologised for his remark on 31 March, in front of Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu representatives, as well as members of the Federation of Indian Muslims.
While commenting on this case, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugamhad said in Parliament that any sort of religious preaching that encourages violence or pits one religion against another will not be tolerated in Singapore.