Imam fined $4,000 for remarks against Jews and Christians, to be repatriated

Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel (left) was fined $4,000 on 3 April 2017 for making comments against Jews and Christians in January. (Photo: Wan Ting Koh/Yahoo Singapore)

The Islamic leader who made the controversial remarks against Jews and Christians during a Friday prayer at a mosque earlier this year was fined $4,000 on Monday (3 April). The Ministry of Home Affairs said Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, a 47-year-old imam from India, will be repatriated.

Nalla pleaded guilty in the State Courts to one charge of disrupting religious harmony due to his comments made on 6 January at Jamae Chulia Mosque.

The imam uttered the following phrase in Arabic, “Grant us help against the Jews and Christians”. Footage of his sermon was posted on Facebook, leading to a police investigation.

The incident was also debated in Parliament, with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam warning that the government will not tolerate any preaching that sows ill will against religions.

According to the statement of facts, the phrase was not a quotation from the Quran and that Nalla had added the phrase on his own. “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,” the statement said.

Nalla had committed an act which he knew was “prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between religious groups and which was likely to disturb the public tranquility”.

In mitigation on behalf of Nalla, lawyer Noor Mohamed Marican said that the imam apologised for his comments on Friday (31 March) in the presence of leaders of various faiths, including a Christian leader. On Monday (2 April), Nalla apologised again to a rabbi at a synagogue for his indiscretion.

In passing sentence, District Judge (DJ) Jasbendar Kaur noted that the imam has been in Singapore since 2010, and as such he should have been aware that the country is multi-racial and multi-religious.

“The public interest and concerns are very strong in cases of this nature as comments such as those that are made by you can create friction and conflicts between different religious groups and Singapore can ill afford to have this,” DJ Kaur said.

MHA said in a press release on Monday that Nalla has paid the fine and will be repatriated, according to a report by Channel Newsasia.

“Any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions. 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,” MHA said.