Islamic religious teacher Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel (left), 47, arrives with his lawyer at court in Singapore on April 3. (Photo by AFP)
An Islamic religious leader from India who made offensive remarks in Singapore about Christians and Jews has been fined S$4,000 (US$2,860) and is to be repatriated.
Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel, 46, appeared in the State Courts on April charged with committing an act which he knew was prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between religious groups, and which was likely to disturb the public tranquility, the Straits Times reported.
Nalla pleaded guilty to committing the offence on Jan. 6 at the Jamae Chulia Mosque in Singapore, where he was chief imam.
After the Friday sermon that day, he recited a prayer in Arabic, which said: "Grant us help against the Jews and Christians."
The court papers said: "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 imam clarified in a public apology on March 31, when he met leaders of various religious groups, that the additional prayer he read was not from the Quran, but an old Arabic text originating from his village in India.
A video of the prayer was circulated online in February, causing some disquiet in the Muslim community as well as the wider public, and prompting a police investigation.
Under the Penal Code, Nalla could have been jailed for up to three years, fined or both.
Shortly after the hearing, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that the imam would be repatriated. The phrase he recited, it added, "was and is unacceptable in a multiracial and multi-religious society."