The Terence Nunis-Mosque Video Controversy

[A cautionary poster’s note: subject matter of religious nature can be touchy; I shall try to be as respectful as possible in making my personal viewpoints here; any umbrage caused would be unintentional.]

For those who are unfamiliar with the subject at hand, here’s a synopsis: Mr. Nunis is a Muslim revert (an ex-Catholic) who posted on his Facebook in Feb. this year a video snippet of a sermon at a local Singapore mosque. It exposed an imam from India who, according to Mr. Nunis’ Facebook account (before it was removed), on more than one occasion quoted un-Quranic verses in supplication, verses that could be construed to cause enmity among Muslims, Jews and Christians. After an official investigation, the said imam was fined $4000 and expelled from Singapore, and Mr. Nunis issued an apology for his role in exposing the imam.

Point 1: Mr. Nunis is not the culprit here. If there was a culprit, MUIS, the Singapore Government religious watchdog, was the one for failing a) to properly vet the profile of its foreign cleric speaker, b) to duly advise foreign cleric of the dos and don’ts before preaching in Singapore and c) to periodically monitor what was preached to the local faithful by a foreign cleric. Far be it from being the culprit of the controversy, Mr. Nunis is the unsung hero here for bravely doing what he did.

Point 2: as penalty, Mr. Nunis was made to delete the said video on his Facebook along with a public apology which reads in part: ‘…I accept that what I did was wrong. Instead, I should only have reported the incident to the Police. My act was racially and religiously divisive. …’  To which I say that is a small price for him to pay — however gratuitous it is — for living in a peaceful, harmonious, albeit imperfect democracy.

Point 3: if Mr. Nunis was ever guilty of grandstanding with his vid, for showing up the authority (MUIS), that should indeed be the least of his worries. Truly, in the age of the Internet and smartphone, just about everyone is equipped with tools to play reporter. Unless state secrets are involved as in the case of Snowden or Assange, exposé or the fear of it is a positive thing; for it has not only the effect to keep untoward conduct at bay, it tends to dispose individuals towards the better of decorum.

Point 4: it’s understandable why some members of the Muslim community are ill at ease with the said incident that involved a ‘whistleblower’ from within — just as is the case for some Christians I’ve spoken with who remain uncomfortable to date talking about the 2010 unwittingly filmed video of Senior Pastor Rony Tan of Lighthouse Evangelism mocking the Buddhist faith. I applaud the local authorities for being always scrupulously even-handed in their treatment of all religious faiths in Singapore. How fortunate it is for Singapore to be spared the tragic mistakes of some European cities (London, Paris, Brussels, etc.) that have unwisely left religion to its own devices only to later rue the day.

Point 5: there is obviously a paucity from within, of enlightened/thinking progressive Muslims in today’s 21st century who are knowledgeable enough theologically and religiously enough personally, to publicly tackle the issues confronting the orthodoxy of the Islamic faith. Proud progressive Muslims like Irshad Manji of Canada, Maajid Nawaz of UK, Reza Aslan of America, and now I may gladly add, Terence Nunis of Singapore, are the answers to the long-term global health/viability of Islam.


(The following exchange appeared on Mr. Nunis’ Facebook timeline)

April 8, 2017 Lester Kok: Mr. Nunis, may I share with you what I posted on my blog shown below — My Take On The Terrence Nunis-Mosque Video Controversy @ LESTER978.WORDPRESS.COM

A Muslim Convert Once More replied:  Just to point out, my name, “Terence”, has one “r”, and I am a convert to Islam, not a revert. The term “revert” is actually derogatory. I was not made to delete the post. It is actually still there in a different format, without the drama. Aside from that, I appreciate the sentiments in your post.
Lester Kok responded: Thanks for the correction.
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