Imams to preach against grooming of girls for sex

Imams across Britain will give simultaneous sermons condemning sexual grooming next month, as part of a grass-roots Muslim campaign to tackle the problem of abuse. The co-ordinated event on 28 June will follow a conference organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to discuss ways of preventing further cases of abuse after seven men – all Muslim – were convicted this week for the grooming and sex trafficking of girls as young as 11 in Oxford. The case is one of several in recent years in which gangs of men, predominantly from a Pakistani Muslim background, have groomed young girls for sex. Julie Siddiqi, executive director of the Islamic Society of Britain, was one of the first Muslim figures to speak out on the issue. She said that although children were exploited in all communities, “the number of street-grooming convictions in the past few years involving Omars, Ahmeds and Faisals means the time has come for action. But if there are patterns emerging – and I think there are – of people from a certain background engaging in this type of activity, then that can’t be ignored either. I’m not saying all Pakistani men are prone to this, or Islam says that; of course that’s nonsense. But if we ignore these patterns we’re going to do an injustice against the victims.” A separate MCB conference, on 20 June, will include speakers from child protection and the police. It will be attended by senior Muslim clerics from around the country. A spokeswoman for the MCB said: “All communities should be tackling this and we’re doing our part to address this.”