Faith and community leaders from across Newcastle have come together to roundly condemn and distance themselves from the actions of those convicted in Northumbria Police’s ‘Operation Sanctuary’.
‘Operation Sanctuary’ investigated, charged and convicted a number of mainly BAME men who had been at the centre of a ring grooming and abusing vulnerable girls in Newcastle’s West End. The brave testimony of those that had been abused led to Northumbria Police being able to convict those involved.
The Newcastle community have expressed their revulsion and deep concern as the despicable crimes perpetrated by those involved have come to light.
With the majority of those involved being of BAME community, there is a fear of backlash from right-wing groups using this as a means to sow divisions in society and that followers of faith will be targeted for the vile actions of a minority that happen to share the same religious identity.
Prominent local Councillor, Dipu Ahad said,
“While it is important we do not allow a victim mentality to settle in to our community, we must not allow groups from the far-right to exploit these sickening crimes by stoking up hatred against Muslims. This is not a time for division and it is vital we all come together, regardless of faith, skin colour and culture, we are one united community.
I’m not going to be apologetic as a person from the BME community, these men do not represent the Muslim community, nor do they represent the teachings of Islam. Their actions are disgraceful, and go against the basic beliefs of humanity, there is absolutely no excuse for this sickening behaviour.
But we do have to learn from what has happened. We all have a duty to protect vulnerable women. We all need to work together and stamp out these disgusting crimes. We want to make sure this never happens again in our city. It is sickening, disgusting and disgraceful.
In a joint statement, community and faith leaders said,
“We the community, faith leaders and non-faith leaders, individuals and groups in the City of Newcastle, are proud of the strong and supportive relationships that exist between different groups in our community.
We are all profoundly saddened by the shocking cases of grooming and child exploitation, including exploitation of vulnerable adults, uncovered by police investigations.
We are also conscious that members of all communities are amongst those who are most disturbed and devastated by these crimes.
It is important now that we do not compound the profound suffering that victims of these crimes have endured by casting blame on entire communities, and we all need to support one another in the aftermath of these events.
We extend our deepest sympathy to the victims and their families.”
The signatories of the above statement are:
- Bishop Christine Hardman
- Bishop Seamus – Chair of Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Rabbi Aaron Lipsey
- Shaykh Abdul Basit
- Shaykh Mohammed Roziur Rahman – Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Revd Gavin Wort
- Mufti Abdul Muheet
- Shama Sultana – Alimah
- Lord Beecham
- Hari Shukla CBE – Vice Chair of Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Deanna Van Der Velde – Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Brenda Dinsdale – Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Tony Wortman – Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Sihanouk Singh – Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Abu-Tayeb KhairDeen -Islamic Diversity Centre
- Mahtab Miah – Chair of Newcastle Bangladeshi Association
- Mofazzol Hussain Khan – Chairman of Shahjalal Mosque
- Amrit Paul Vedhera – President of Hindu Temple, Newcastle
- Abdul Goni – Chairman of Newcastle Muslim Centre
- Younes Mohammed – President of Newcastle Central Mosque and Islamic Centre, Bilal Jamia Masjid
- Saleem Afsar – Secretary of Newcastle Central Mosque and Islamic Centre, Bilal Jamia Masjid
- Mohammed Ahmed – Chairman of Heaton Mosque
- Mohammed Amin – Secretary of Heaton Mosque
- Mohammed Saddique Sajid – Treasurer of Heaton Mosque
- Daniel Kebede – Co Chair, Newcastle Unites
- Shumel Everest Rahman – Co Chair, Newcastle Unites
- Hafiz Muhammad Zaman
- Cllr Mick Bowman
- Cllr Irim Ali
- Cllr Nigel Todd
- Cllr Ann Schofield
- Cllr Oskar Pablo Avery
- Dipu Ahad
- Janice Freddy Hutton – Social Worker
- Simon Elliott – Reg Sec PCS
- Mike McDonald – NUT Northern Regional Secretary
- Tony Dowling – People’s Assembly North East
- Ms C McCurley LLB
- Bill Corcoran
- Newcastle Council of Faiths
- Newcastle Unites
- Angelou Centre
- West End Women & Girls Centre
- Bahr Academy
- Islamic Diversity Centre
- Newcastle Central Mosque, Grainger Park
- Newcastle Central Mosque & Islamic Centre (Bilal Jamia Masjid)
- Shahjalal Mosque, Newcastle
- Heaton Mosque, Newcastle
- Newcastle Muslim Centre