A Muslim community leader from Leeds says it is wrong to link the “depraved actions” of recently convicted child sex grooming gangs to Islam.
But Qari Asim, imam of Hyde Park Mosque, said British Muslims of Pakistani heritage “must question why there are so many perpetrators of this evil crime in their midst”.
Mr Asim has written a piece reacting to a report published this week into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Oxfordshire.
The serious case review found as many as 373 children may have abused by gangs of men in the county in the last 16 years.
It called for research into why those convicted in the case – and other high-profile cases in places like Rochdale and Rotherham – were of “Pakistani and/or Muslim heritage”.
But Mr Asim said it was “not credible to blame a whole community”. He added: “Some groups are exploiting the cases of sexual grooming and are linking the depraved actions of the perpetrators to Islam.
British Muslims of Pakistani heritage must question why there are so many perpetrators of this evil crime in their midst”Qari Asim, imam at Hyde Park Mosque
“It is rather the lack of spirituality in the perpetrators that could be said to be one of the key factors in them committing such grossly sickening and deplorable acts.”
Mr Asim said no area, including Leeds, was immune from problems with sexual grooming gangs and called on the Muslim community to look at itself.
He said: “With a significant proportion of those found guilty nationally of group CSE being from a Pakistani and/or Muslim heritage, British Muslims of Pakistani heritage must question why there are so many perpetrators of this evil crime in their midst. “