SINGAPORE: The imam who was fined for making controversial remarks against Christians and Jews has shown remorse and regret for his actions, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday (Apr 5).
Mr Shanmugam said this following a breakfast meeting with Imam Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel and leaders and members from the Federation of Indian Muslims and Jamae Chulia Mosque at Ba'alwie Mosque on Wednesday morning, at the invitation of Imam Habib Hassan of Ba'alwie Mosque.
The minister noted that Imam Nalla had shown regret for his remarks and commended him for apologising to other faith leaders. "He also met the leaders of other faiths, including the Rabbi, at the synagogue, to apologise for his actions. That showed real sincerity and courage," said Mr Shanmugam.
Mr Shanmugam (C) and leaders and members from the Federation of Indian Muslims and Jamae Chulia Mosque at Ba'alwie Mosque. (Photo: Ba’alwie Mosque)
"I thought it would be good to meet and tell the imam that I appreciated the sincerity with which he had shown his remorse," Mr Shanmugam said of his decision to accept the invitation for the meeting.
He added that action "had to be taken against the imam", but - referencing an earlier statement by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) - "action against him was taken with some regret".
The imam had last week, 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.
MHA has said the imam will be repatriated to his home country of India.
In a farewell message, Imam Nalla said the episode has been a "priceless lesson".
“Singaporeans treasure the diversity and the harmony of her people, and I have no right nor justification to even attempt to shake or agitate them," said the imam.
His final moments in Singapore were "unimaginable and unforgetable", he said. "I had the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Home Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam, and (had) his reassurance that even a man found guilty by the court will still be embraced by the society as long as he realises, regrets and repents from his mistakes.
"I am filled with utmost envy and respect for this nation."
He added that he hoped to return to Singapore one day.