An imam who made controversial remarks against Christians and Jews during his Friday sermon at a mosque was on Monday (Apr 3) handed a fine of S$4,000, after pleading guilty to a charge of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race.
Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel arrived at the State Courts accompanied by religious leaders from other faiths.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a separate press release on Monday 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 had on Friday apologised in front of Christian, Sikh, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu representatives, as well as members of the Federation of Indian Muslims, saying that he was "filled with great remorse" for the inconvenience, tension and trauma caused by his remarks.
In January and February 2017, the imam, who's from India, made supplications at Friday prayers where he recited an old Arabic text which originated from his village in India. The text read: “God help us against Jews and Christians”, which is not an extract from the Quran.
The incident came under police investigation after a video of the sermon was posted on Facebook. It sparked heated debate, prompting Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim to call for peace and unity in the Muslim community.
Lawyers Channel NewsAsia spoke to last week said that the imam's apology could be a strong mitigation factor if the case is brought before a court.
After the police concluded investigations into the case, Nalla also visited Rabbi Moderchai Abergel at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue on Sunday to extend his apology to the Jewish community in Singapore - which the rabbi accepted.
For promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or race, the imam could have been punished with up to three years in jail, a fine or both.