LONDON – Urging all Britons to speak out against the practice, an umbrella Muslim group is condemning the scandal of grooming white girls for sexual activities as running counter to Islamic teachings.
“This is an appalling and abhorrent kind of behavior which is totally unacceptable regardless of race or religion,” Sheikh Mogra, Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said on BBC Radio 4's Sunday program on April 7.Nine Britons of Pakistani and Afghan descent were found guilty last year of exploiting girls, who were all white, in sexual activities in Rochdale and Derby in return for drugs and alcohol.
“Some of those perpetrators who have recently been convicted happen to be from the Muslim community so we need to be at the very front of the voice that is condemning this,” he said.
The Muslim leader stressed that the behavior of the convicts in grooming girls for sex totally contradicts with Islamic teachings.
"They have used drugs, they have used alcohol, they have used prostitution and all kinds of other methods which are all forbidden within Islam," he said.
The MCB leader said that the pedophile scandal should be seen purely as criminal behavior, warning that using labels of race and religion could "drive the problem deeper underground".He called for all people as a “religious duty” to speak out against the practice of grooming girls for sexual activities.
Seeking to tackle the phenomenon, the MCB is planning a national conference to educate people about grooming.
Sheikh Mogra said the umbrella Muslim body is also working with different groups as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), police and Muslim groups for this goal.
"You cannot hide these criminals within your ranks,” the Muslim leader said.
“It is your duty to come out and speak out against it because that is what Islam requires of you.”
Some analysts opine that grooming was a significant problem for some British Muslims, particularly of Pakistani origin.
“There should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals,” Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, told the BBC.
“They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behavior that is bringing shame on our community.”
But police officials rule out race as a main factor behind the practice, believing that the issue was about "adults preying on vulnerable young children".
"It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men," Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police, said.
MP Keith Vaz also believes that "no particular race or religion" tended to be involved.
"There is no excuse for this kind of criminality, whoever is involved in it, but I don't think it is a particular group of people, I don't think it's a particular race or religion," he said.
Debates have repeatedly arisen in Britain since the conviction of the Pakistani men last May.
In September, former Home Secretary Jack Straw sparked a controversy after accusing British Muslims of Pakistani origin of abusing white girls and using them in pedophile rings.
In 2011, he accused Pakistani immigrants of seeing white girls an “easy meat” for abuses, drawing accusations of stigmatizing the whole Muslim community.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.
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