Arabic-speaking cleric claims to have been sacked for hoping to learn English

February 10, 2018

AN Islamic cleric has told an unfair dismissal hearing he was warned he would be sack­ed as preacher at ­Preston’s mosque if he learnt English.

But the Islamic Society of Victoria said it dismissed Moh­amad Abou-Eid after he had made false claims in public and in front of TV cameras, alleging financial irregularities at the mosque.

This followed the Board of Imams Victoria suspending him as it probed claims he tried to take a ­second wife and had an affair.

Mr Abou-Eid claimed the society, acting as the mosque committee, had misappropria­ted “millions in worshippers’ funds” which were meant to go to charity.

Speaking through an inter­preter at the Fair Work Commission, Mr Abou-Eid said members of the mosque committee were strict about him not learning English.

“They said if you were to try to learn English we might get a replacement,” he said.

Mohamad Abou Eid at Preston Mosque.

But James Catlin, acting for the Islamic Society, said the previous imam was an ­English speaker and Mr Abou-Eid’s sermons would reach a wider audience in English.

Mr Abou-Eid admitted he had been engaged to a woman he wanted as his second wife.

But he denied allegations that he had sexual relations with another woman in 2014, saying she tried to bribe him.

Mr Abou-Eid made a fiery speech outside Preston mos­que in February last year, days before the Board of Imams’ hearing into his alle­ged conduct, claiming the committee had rais­ed millions for a school which only cost $650,000.

He called them a “gang of thi­eves controlling the mosque”.

“They came to my home and threatened to kill me,” Mr Abou-Eid said. “They want to kill me, they can kill me — I put my faith in Allah.”

Mr Catlin put to Mr Abou-Eid he made that speech bec­ause he knew there would be a hearing into his relationships with the women.

The cleric denied this claim.

The hearing, before Fair Work Commissioner Michelle Bissett, ­continues in April.





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