It is a crime Islam forbids, a crime against humanity

Men who groom young teenagers to exploit them sexually are committing a crime against humanity, a crime that Islam totally forbids.

As the father of three young girls, I can only share the pain of the parents of white teenagers who have been exploited by Asian gangs in various locations across Britain.

When I first spoke publicly two years ago to condemn such activities, it was because I felt that someone needed to speak out from the Muslim community, to take a stance that would, I hoped, protect teenagers from suffering this heinous evil. Today it is someone else’s daughter; tomorrow it could be yours or mine.

I knew then, as I do now, that speaking out would lead to accusations that I was doing the work of the British National Party and that I was making it all up. In 2008, I received verbal and physical abuse. I lost count of the number of times when people said that these were isolated cases. They accused me of bringing shame on our community.

Two years on, we now know that 53 men, mainly of Pakistani background, have been convicted of a series of terrible crimes against young girls. The majority of the victims are white. More people are starting to recognise this pattern and people have now approached me to apologise for their earlier accusations and criticism.

We need to establish why such men are mainly choosing to groom white teenagers and not Muslim girls. The simple answer is that these people think that white girls have fewer morals and are less valuable than our girls. They also believe that by grooming white girls there will be no reprisal within their own community. This is a form of racism that is abhorrent and totally unacceptable in a society that prides itself on equality and justice.

To stop the British National Party from taking advantage of such crimes and using them for propaganda, we need to have an honest debate within our Asian communities about how we can bring an end to this terrible child sexual exploitation. We should also pay tribute to those girls and their families who have been brave enough to give evidence in criminal trials. There would have been no justice without their courage.

I would like to see imams and mosques addressing these crimes in their Friday sermons, explaining the Islamic ruling on such evil acts and stressing that an attack on a white girl is as forbidden as an attack on our own daughters and sisters. I know there are some imams who have done this with great bravery.

Schools and colleges must also talk with teenagers about the dangers of being involved in such crimes. This preventive work would take time but I am certain that it would lead to fewer girls being harmed. The police must also help community groups to reach out to young men before they become on-street groomers. They must be taught to value white teenagers as much as an Asian girl, a Muslim girl or a black girl. There is no difference.

I feel so sorry for these girls and the suffering that they have gone through. These criminals have destroyed promising young lives. We all need to work together to bring this crime into the open and, by doing so, bring it to an end.

Mohammed Shafiq is chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation

mohammed.shafiq@ramadhanfoundation.com

 

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