Child sex trial: verdicts welcomed by Muslim spokesman

Date published: 08 May 2012

A local Muslim spokesman, who has previously spoken out nationally about the "grooming" of young girls by members of the Asian community, has welcomed the verdicts in the Rochdale child sex trial.

Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation said: “I wish to pay tribute to the bravery of the young girls that have given evidence in this trial, without their contribution justice would not have been possible. Today’s guilty verdicts are to be welcomed and I hope the message goes out that if you engage in these crimes, you will be caught and brought to justice.

These criminals have brought shame on themselves, their families and our community. We reject their actions without reservation and send our thoughts to the victims and reject any attempt by the far right to tarnish the whole Pakistani community. Their actions have no place in a decent society and today we can say justice has been done.

There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community, there is an over representation amongst recent convictions in the crime of on street grooming, there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals. They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community. I urge the Police and the Councils not to be frightened to address this issue, there is a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over sensitive.

I have been overwhelmed by the support the Ramadhan Foundation has been given by young people for our campaign on child grooming but concerned that community elders are once again burying their heads in the sand, this concerns us all and we must speak out. The community elders need to learn from the reaction of young people and reject any attempt to silence the reaction from our community. We have over the past twelve months seen tremendous progress, more Imams have spoken out in Friday sermons, workshops and activities for young people have happened in the community and there is a strong commitment to see this work through.

We encourage local authorities and schools to learn from Rochdale where over 9000 teenagers have attended a workshop on child grooming. The Ramadhan Foundation is ready to stand with anyone who wishes to protect these young teenagers. The Police will need to reflect on their failures in this case and we look forward to the IPCC report.

Finally the far right and fascist movements are not welcome to Rochdale, we reject their division and hatred and it has no place in a tolerant and diverse society. We will learn lessons from this case but not allow outsiders to divide us.

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