Commenting on the conviction of 17 Asian men from Newcastle convicted for their involvement in the abuse and grooming of girls, Imam Qari Asim, head Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque said:
“British Muslims of sub continental heritage cannot avoid the reality that men of their heritage are increasingly involved and being convicted for their roles in the localised, street grooming of vulnerable girls.
What these sexual offenders have done is bring a shame on their religion, their families, their culture and their country.
Sometimes elders in the community prefer to put the blame elsewhere rather than accept that these young men are responsible for sexual exploitation. We must accept that these crimes happen in our neighbourhoods – committed by men from all communities – and work to protect all of our girls.
The solution must come from within – our faith and our family traditions provide us with critical tools to eradicate sexual exploitation.
We all know that their criminal acts are alien to the teachings of any religion and against the cultures of the perpetrators so it’s high time we started speaking out against the offenders because they are not acting like ‘our own’.
My message to my Friday congregation at Makkah Mosque Leeds will be,
‘If you see something not right, don’t be afraid to report it. It does not mean that people have to become spies and whistle-blowers, rather good neighbours in order to protect their own families and communities’.
But that responsibility cannot be limited to one single community. It’s the duty of every community to do everything they can to prevent abused young people. That’s all of us, that makes us united against sexual exploitation. We need to send out a loud and clear message that abuse and abusers will not be tolerated within any of our communities.
The focus on race and religion of the perverse criminals detracts from the real issue. We need to bring about behavioural change in our society to protect the vulnerable and challenge misogyny.”