Ohio’s largest mosque has named an Egyptian-born cleric from Michigan as its new imam, filling a position mostly vacant for more than a year after one imam was deported and another resigned amid accusations of anti-Semitism.

Sayed Abouabdalla, 43, was announced to the congregation during Friday prayers at the 350-member Islamic Center of Cleveland in suburban Parma.

Although Abouabdalla doesn’t speak English very well — a provision in his contract requires him to take English classes — mosque leaders later Friday described him as an Islamic scholar with American sensibilities.

“He understands the Koran and he recites all 114 chapters by heart,” said Fuad Hamed, chairman of the center’s board of trustees. “At the same time, he’s much more enlightened than a lot of imams. He’s very modern-like.”

Trustees sought an imam open to interfaith outreach, said Zahid Siddiqi, the mosque’s general secretary.


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