Associate Professor Khairudin Aljunied has been suspended from work at the National University of Singapore (NUS) since March 6.
This comes after Khairudin made a jab at a man, Terence Nunis, who accused an Imam (prayer leader) of making insensitive comments against Christians and Jews during Friday prayers at Masjid Jamae (Chulia) on January 6.
Nunis uploaded a video of the Imam supposedly saying “God Grant us victory over the Jews and the Christians, God Grant us victory over the Jews and the Christians” in Arabic, and accused him of “supplicating as if we are all living in the Crusades”.
In response, Khairudin published a thinly-veiled jab at Nunis on Facebook.
Need to catch up on the whole drama? Read this:
According to an NUS spokesperson’s reply to The Straits Times, Khairudin was suspended regarding “purported comments made in relation to insensitive remarks about Christians and Jews allegedly made by a religious leader”.
The university, which expects its staff to “observe standards and policies on staff conduct, which include respecting different views and communicating responsibly”, also said that they will be launching an internal investigation into the associate professor’s involvement in the case. In the meantime, Khairudin will continue to receive his salary.
Khairudin’s Facebook post and subsequent explanation of his jab was taken down. His Facebook profile is currently unavailable.
The police is also currently investigating all involved in the case, including Terence Nunis – the man who posted the video of the imam’s sermon containing the allegedly incendiary comment, as well as the imam himself.
Religious sensitivity a thorny issue
Tackling religious sensitivity in multi-religious Singapore is a thorny issue – exacerbated by social media, a tool that makes it easy to “cause offence and take offence” with just a push of a button, as pointed out by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2015.
Many would remember Senior Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism being called up by the Internal Security Department (ISD) for making disparaging comments (which were posted on YouTube) about Buddhism in a sermon in 2010.
Religious issues will always be a sticky point of contention, especially in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Singapore. As we await outcomes of the investigation, it is important to know that restraint and contextual understanding are important, and can go a long way in helping us live harmoniously.
Top image via Rakyat Post.