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Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel speaking to religious leaders at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery (HDG). (Photo: Quantum Mavericks)

Imam fined $4,000 and deported for his act of indiscretion earlier this year

Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel Abdul Malik, Chief Imam at the Jamae Chulia Mosque, is fined $4,000 for his act of indiscretion earlier this year.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the police investigated a 46-year-old Nalla, 40-year-old Syed Muhammad Khairudin Aljunied, and 40-year-old Terence Kenneth John Nunis in the case.

During a Friday prayer on 6 January 2017 at the Jamae Chulia Mosque, Nalla had uttered the phrases fansurna ‘alal qaumil yahudiyyin wan nasraniyyin, fansurna ‘alal qaumil yahudiyyin wan nasraniyyin”.

These phrases, as translated into English, read as “Grant us help against the Jews and the Christians. Grant us help against the Jews and the Christians.”

MFA noted that the phrase “Grant us help against the Jews and the Christians” could also be interpreted as asking God to grant Muslims victory over Jews and Christians.

Nalla has admitted to saying the above, and has also admitted that the phrase is not found in the Qur’an. He added them on his own. He knew what the phrase meant, and that it could also be interpreted as asking God to grant Muslims victory over Jews and Christians.

The ministry stressed that the phrase was and is unacceptable in a multi-racial and multi-religious society.

Nalla’s case was referred to the Public Prosecutor (PP) after completion of police investigations.

He was charged in Court on 3 April 2017 with the offence of committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups, under Section 298A(b) of the Penal Code.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the District Court to a $4,000 fine which has been paid. He will also be deported.

Nalla also admitted in Court that the supplication was his own and not from the Qur’an. He recognized that it was unacceptable in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious context.

On Friday (31 March), leaders and members of the interfaith community gathered at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery (HDG) upon the request of the Imam of Jamae Chulia Mosque.

Nalla shared his remorse for his act fully acknowledged that his insensitivity was not complementary to the ethos and essence of Singapore, which has customarily and carefully embraced and emphasised on harmonious co-existence within an extremely diverse society.

He also asked for the apology from, and apologise to, all Singaporeans, and acknowledged that he must bear full responsibility for his actions, as part of his duty to all Singaporeans.

MFA said that any religious leader from any religion who makes such statements will be held accountable for their actions.

In this case, the supplication used by Nalla was not in the Qur’an. However, it noted that the same principles apply, even if such verses are to be found in a religious text.

“There are exhortations in religious texts, from more than one religion, which inter alia, encourage violence towards people of other religions. 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,” it stated.

Khairudin published a post on his Facebook account on 1 March 2017 titled “The Imam and the Silly Convert”, and another post on 2 March 2017 titled “The Imam and the Wised Up Convert Reloaded”.

MFA noted that the effect of his posts was to support the supplication that Nalla had used.

According to the ministry, Khairudin’s comments were contrary to the law. The PP assessed that his actions amounted to an offence under Section 298A(b) of the Penal Code.

Khairudin has apologized for his actions. On the specific facts of this case, and given that he was not the primary offender, Khairudin has been administered with a stern warning in lieu of prosecution.

Terence was the whistleblower of the case. However, instead of reporting Nalla’s action to the police, he chose to make the video public.

PP assessed that his actions were also in breach of the law.

Terence has apologized for his conduct and undertaken not to repeat it. Again, on the facts of this case, and given that he was not the primary offender, Terence has been administered with a stern warning in lieu of prosecution for an offence under Section 298A(b) of the Penal Code.

The ministry stated that the action against Nalla has been taken with some regret, saying that he has worked diligently as Chief Imam at the Jamae Chulia Mosque over the past seven years, attending to the needs of his congregation, and reaching out to other faiths. He has not been deliberately malicious.

Nevertheless, it stressed that what he did was wrong, and he has admitted it. Given the nature of the breach, action had to be taken.

“The fair and impartial application of the law protects all communities, including Muslims and other minority religious communities. The Government has taken firm action against persons from other religions as well,” MFA said.

It then added that 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 Government has the responsibility to act quickly and firmly to repudiate divisive speech, even if the course of action is sometimes difficult,” the ministry said.