NUS prof suspended over remarks on imam case

Dr Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, lecturer at the Malay Studies Department, National University of Singapore (NUS).
PHOTO: Berita Harian

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has suspended the academic who openly criticised the man who made public an imam's comments.

The university told The Straits Times yesterday that it suspended Associate Professor Khairudin Aljunied from his duties on Monday.

"The suspension follows from (his) purported comments made in relation to insensitive remarks about Christians and Jews allegedly made by a religious leader," an NUS spokesman said.

"As part of due process, NUS will launch an internal investigation into Assoc Prof Khairudin's involvement in this incident. Assoc Prof Khairudin will continue to be paid his full salary during his suspension," the spokesman added.

"NUS takes a serious view of any actions or speech that condone the promotion of hatred, ill will and enmity that targets specific faith communities."

She also said: "All members of the NUS community must observe standards and policies on staff conduct. These...include respecting different views, and the practice of responsible communication."

When contacted, Prof Khairudin said that he was unable to comment, owing to the ongoing investigations.

Read also: Prof Khairudin's comments on lesbians spark protests from past and present students

Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam told Parliament last Friday that police are looking into the conduct of everyone involved in the case.

Last month, investment associate Terence Nunis, a Muslim who is a convert, posted a video online. It showed an imam at Jamae Mosque who, after a sermon, reportedly recited a prayer in Arabic that said "God grant us victory over Jews and Christians", among other things. Mr Nunis' post and the video were spread widely.

The imam, who is not named, was then placed on leave as part of due process, as police investigations began. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) is assisting in the probe as well.

The case generated strong reactions in the Muslim community, with some feeling the post could be used to cast aspersions on Islam and religious leaders.

Prof Khairudin, a tenured academic in NUS' Malay studies department, posted on his Facebook page a fictional conversation between an imam and a "silly convert". In the post, he described the convert as being stupid for getting upset over several verses.

Mr Shanmugam said on Friday that Prof Khairudin had "encouraged vilification" of the whistleblowing individual.

"He supports a position that is quite contrary to the norms, values and laws in Singapore," the minister said. He added on Saturday that the police will investigate the case thoroughly and interview all parties involved, including those who filmed and publicised the video.

"Whether there is a case for further action against any of the parties will depend on the outcome of investigations," he said.

"The Government does not take sides in this issue - if anyone is found to have committed an offence, action will be taken."

This article was first published on Mar 09, 2017.
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