UK Muslim leaders warn of sex grooming
Sermon in mosques follows series of convictions for abuse of underage girls
Brothers Anjum (31, left) and Akhtar Dogar (32), two of five members of a paedophile gang jailed for life on Thursday for sexually abusing underage girls. Photograph: Thames Valley Police/PA Wire
Muslims in dozens of mosques across Britain who gathered for Friday prayers yesterday were told that a series of convictions for Muslim men who had groomed white teenagers for sex posed “a major challenge”.
On Thursday, five members of a paedophile gang – all from Pakistani or north African backgrounds – were jailed for life in Oxford following eight years of vicious abuse of girls as young as 12.
The convictions followed a number of others involving Muslim men who plied girls, often from broken homes, with alcohol and drugs before passing them around for sex.
The sermon drafted by Bradford imams demanded that men obey strict Koranic teaching on respectful behaviour towards women and children and that they behave with the highest morality.
“We know that those involved in sexual abuse and in the practice of sexual grooming come from all faiths, communities and backgrounds,” said the sermon, circulated to all mosques in the area.
“However, with so many individuals from a Muslim background involved in such crimes we have a responsibility to condemn this,” it went on.
A number of men of Pakistani/south Asian backgrounds have been convicted for what the sermon described as “this wicked and evil crime” after trials in Derby, Rochdale, west Yorkshire and elsewhere.
“Unfortunately there are many other such cases pending which will mean that this issue will continue to be in the headlines for some time to come,” the community was warned. “The combination of publicity from a number of these cases hitting the headlines in a short space of time and the fallout from the Woolwich killing [of soldier Lee Rigby] will create a major challenge for the Muslim community,” the clerics warned.
Urging Muslim communities to act together to stop grooming, they warned their congregations to report suspicious conduct to the police, or social services. “If you need any motivation other than it is the right and Islamic thing to do, just consider this – what if it was your daughter and someone you knew had not taken that step?
“If you report it, you will have stopped an evil deed with your action [the highest form of faith] and protected a young person from harm,” the sermon continued.
Four of the victims in the Oxford case, who were abused between 2004 and last year, had lived in state-run children’s homes.
The trial heard that the girls, who were aged between 11 and 15 at the time, were repeatedly and violently raped and beaten. In one case, a 12-year-old who had been handed around for sex was forced to have an abortion.
Some were driven around the country and shared with other groups of paedophiles for gang-rape sessions, the court was told. Five of the men were jailed for life, with one told that he will serve a minimum of 20 years.
The involvement of Muslim men in child sex grooming has been exploited by far-right groups in Britain, including the English Defence League, which will march today in Woolwich at the scene of Lee Rigby’s killing.