OFFICIALS at Dunfermline Central Mosque subjected an Imam to religious harassment by accusing him of preaching extremist views, a tribunal has found.

Board members at the mosque made the accusation in a disciplinary letter to Imam Amanat Hussain Shah, which alleged he had been “preaching extremist Muslim views to the centre’s worshippers”.

An official also referred repeatedly to Mr Shah as a Shi’a Muslim when he is a member of Sunni faith – a comment which the tribunal heard would be considered “highly offensive”.

Mr Shah has been awarded a total of almost £30,000 from the tribunal for unfair dismissal, religious harassment, breach of contract and unpaid wages.

Employment judge Melanie Sangster said that the procedures used by the mosque were “grossly inadequate”, adding that the Imam was asked to face disciplinary proceedings “in relation to numerous unsubstantiated allegations, which had not been investigated”.

She added: “No reasonable employer would have dismissed (Mr Shah) in these circumstances. (Mr Shah’s) dismissal was accordingly unfair.”

The tribunal heard that Mr Shah, a South African national of Pakistani origin, took up the post of Imam at the mosque and moved to Scotland in December 2012.

In 2015, he had a disagreement with committee member Saghir Ahmed and over the next two years Mr Ahmed repeatedly called Mr Shah at Shi’a Muslim publicly.

He also posted on Facebook that the Imam was a “liar, a hypocrite and a very evil man” before eventually being removed from the committee.

A further dispute took place the following year when Mr Shah revealed personal details about a board member’s marriage at a meeting.

The official was said to be “irate and incandescent” that his personal information had been disclosed by the religious leader and this prompted the committee to take disciplinary action.

On May 11, 2018, Mr Shah was suspended from work due to his “breach of confidence”.

His supporters at the mosque started a petition entitled 'Save our Imam and Save Our Mosque' and a week later police were called to the building after the supporters were refused permission to address the congregation.

A short while later, Mr Shah received a letter inviting him to a disciplinary meeting and listing a string of accusations against him.

It included allegations that he had verbally abused children when teaching, promoted a culture where non-Pakistani Muslims were excluded, breached confidentiality in relation to the personal marriage details and preached extremist Muslim views.

The letter also included a number of written complaints from committee members and their friends and family.

The tribunal judgment stated: “The allegations within the letters had not been investigated in any way and, in a number of instances, they amounted simply to assertions, rather than factual allegations.”

At this point, Mr Shah was signed off work for four weeks with stress and anxiety and was deemed unfit to attend the hearing.

An HR adviser told the mosque’s committee that they would have to wait until Mr Shah was fit enough to attend.

However, the following day, the board made a change to its UK immigration sponsorship status and its licence to employ Mr Shah was “surrendered with immediate effect”.

The Imam was then issued with his P45. He was told that “the sponsorship licence had been surrendered as the executive committee had taken the decision that they no longer wished to employ him as Imam”.

He asked them to reconsider and explained that he only had three months left until he could apply for permanent residence in the UK, however, no-one responded to his request.

The tribunal heard Mr Shah has been unable to find work since and has developed depression and PTSD symptoms related to his former employment.

He and his family were evicted from their home, which belonged to the mosque, in September 2019.

Judge Sangster reduced his financial award by 50 per cent as he was partly to blame for the dismissal as he disclosed the personal marriage details.