I am filled with great remorse for the inconvenience, tension and trauma that I have caused to this peaceful country.
An imam, who is facing police investigations for his remarks that had allegedly insulted Christians and Jews during his Friday sermons at a mosque, yesterday apologised for his “act of indiscretion”, which he acknowledged has no place in Singapore’s multireligious and multicultural society.
Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, an Indian national, had also met and apologised to about 30 religious leaders from the Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu faiths, as well as members of the Federation of Indian Muslims, at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery at Maxwell Road.
The meeting was organised at his request, said lawyer Noor Mohamed Marican, who had issued a media statement on the imam’s behalf.
The statement noted that imam realised the incident was a serious indiscretion on his part and “could have caused serious repercussions on the interfaith harmony here”.
Early last month, a police report was lodged against an unnamed imam who had supposedly quoted a verse from the Quran along the lines of “God grant us victory over Jews and Christians”, among other things. His comments were captured in a video and shared online.
Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam later spoke about the incident in Parliament, noting that appropriate action would be taken if the imam had indeed made an “inflammatory suggestion”. But Mr Shanmugam also stressed that the authorities had to be fair to the imam as they did not “fully know the exact context in which the imam spoke”.
In his apology on Friday (March 31), Mr Nalla said he was “filled with great remorse for the inconvenience, tension and trauma that I have caused to this peaceful country”.
His actions were also “not complementary to the ethos and essence of this young yet great nation”, he added.
Mr Nalla noted that he had recited an additional supplication in Arabic, which was taken from an old text that originated from his village in India. It was not an extract from the Quran, he added.
“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, wheresoever, in this extremely multi-religious and multi-cultural society,” he said.
Mr Nalla, who said he is “very relieved that the society has remained calm” amid this episode, added that he fully respects Singapore’s laws and appreciates the concerns of Singaporeans. “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.
In response to media queries, a Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson said: “We note the apology. It is not appropriate to comment at this juncture because investigations are not finalised.”
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said it did not want to comment further, until after investigations are concluded. It had said in a statement earlier that “there can be no room for discourse that promotes intolerance, enmity or violence against other communities”.