NUS suspends academic while it investigates his involvement in case of imam's remarks

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

The university told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Mar 8) that it had suspended Associate Professor Khairudin Aljunied from his duties on Monday (March 6).

This "follows from (his) purported comments made in relation to insensitive remarks about Christians and Jews allegedly made by a religious leader", a spokesman for the university said.

During this time, the university will internally investigate Dr Khairudin's involvement in the matter, though he will still receive his pay, the spokesman added.

"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 university said.

When contacted, Dr Khairudin said he was unable to comment due to the ongoing investigations.

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

Last month, investment associate Terence Nunis posted a video online of 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.

The video gained traction online and offline and, as part of due process, the imam has been placed on leave while investigations, which the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) is assisting in, are ongoing.

The case sparked a storm in the community, and many felt the postings could be used to cast aspersions on Islam and religious leaders. Some also felt the imam's recitation had been taken out of context.

Dr Khairudin, a tenured academic at NUS' Malay Studies department, had posted on his Facebook page a fictional conversation between an imam and a "silly convert".

In the post, Dr Khairudin described the convert as being stupid for getting upset over the verses.

Mr Shanmugam had said that Dr Khairudin "encouraged vilification" of the whistleblowing individual. He said: "Mr Khairudin's position and actions are quite unacceptable... He supports a position that is quite contrary to the norms, values and laws in Singapore."

On Saturday, the minister added that 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 added.

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

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

"Members of the NUS community must observe standards and policies on staff conduct, which include respecting different views and communicating responsibly," it said.

This article was first published on March 8, 2016.
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