SINGAPORE: An imam who made allegedly offensive remarks against Jews and Christians visited a synagogue here yesterday and acknowledged that his actions could have sparked distrust among the different faiths in the country, and extended an unconditional apology.
Nalla Mohamed Abdul Jameel visited the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in the morning to convey his apologies to Rabbi Mordechai Abergel of the Jewish community.
Also present at the synagogue in Waterloo Street were religious leaders from Singapore’s Buddhist and Sikh communities.
“My actions could spark discomfort and distrust among the people of different faiths here, especially between the Muslims and the Christians and Jews,” said the imam from India.
“I decided to come forward to publicly clarify the situation and say sorry to everyone in Singapore.
“I had made a mistake, and I must respect the laws of Singapore,” he added. “I hope my explanation and apology to the public has cleared any misunderstanding and tension among the people of Singapore, and that religious harmony here continues to be observed and preserved.
“I’m just very sorry for causing tension and inconvenience to everyone,” he said.
Commenting on the case, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob commended the imam for doing “the right thing in taking the initiative to apologise and clarify that his intention was to do no harm to other religions when he met the interfaith community”.
In noting how he had lacked an understanding of the multi-religious harmony in Singapore, and had imported “something alien” to the Singaporean context, she said that the imam had taken positive steps to resolve the situation.
She said that she was also glad that non-Muslim Singaporeans had reacted well to his actions.
On behalf of Singapore’s Jewish community, Rabbi Mordechai accepted Nalla’s apology for reciting an old Arabic text originating from his village that read “God help us against Jews and Christians”.
The imam also presented Rabbi Mordechai with a copy of the open apology he made on Friday at the Harmony in Diversity Gallery before several interfaith leaders, including Bishop Terry Kee, who was representing the Christian faith, as well as members of the Federation of Indian Muslims. – New Straits Times