Friday, March 31, 2017

Imam apologises for offensive remarks caught on video, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Imam apologises for offensive remarks caught on video, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Imam apologises for offensive remarks caught on video

An imam at Jamae Mosque in Chinatown who made controversial remarks about Christians and Jews has apologised for his actions.

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

Yesterday, Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, 47, apologised to a group of leaders from various faiths at a closed-door meeting at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery in Maxwell Road. The gathering was organised at his request.

"I fully respect the laws of the land and appreciate the concerns of her people. I am truly sorry that I had offended you, and I must bear full responsibility for my actions, as part of my duty to all Singaporeans and residents," he said.

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

The imam, who hails from India, also 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, (whatsoever), in this extremely multi-religious and multicultural society."

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

"This episode has educated and enlightened me, and I am deeply thankful to God for this realisation. I am also very relieved that the society has remained calm. I am glad that the police gave me the full opportunity to explain myself during the investigations," he added.

His apology came a month after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam told Parliament that police were investigating the imam as well as the actions of all involved.

The video, posted by investment associate Terence Nunis, a Muslim, sparked a storm in the community, which felt it could be used to cast aspersions on Islam.

The imam was placed on leave while investigations are ongoing.

Last month, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim called for calm and unity, saying there is no space for extremism or exclusivism here.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, which is assisting police in investigations, had said there can be no room for discourse that promotes intolerance, enmity or violence against other communities.

Mufti Fatris Bakaram had also said the community had to ensure that religious texts are read appropriately and not misunderstood.

Yesterday, Bishop Terry Kee, who was at the meeting, said the incident is a lesson for religious leaders to exercise sensitivity and care when they talk about other faiths.

"I appreciate the humility of the imam in acknowledging his error and also his courage to stand up and make a public apology. I believe that this will go a long way in restoring the faith and the relationship with Christians and Jews, in particular, and of course with all faiths," he said.

Mr Mohamed Abdul Jaleel, chairman of the Bencoolen and Abdul Gafoor Mosques, said: "Now that the imam has realised his mistake and he has apologised, let us move on from here... We must do all we can to preserve and protect the peace and harmonious living we have enjoyed all these years."

When asked for an update on the investigations yesterday, the Ministry of Home Affairs said: "We note the apology. It is not appropriate to comment at this juncture because investigations are not finalised."

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