The Muslim Council of Britain has written to The Times following their incendiary front page article, entitled ‘Call for national debate on Muslim sex grooming’. The paper has published the MCB’s response, but the full, unedited letter can be read below:
Sexual abuse is wrong whoever the perpetrators may be. However your incendiary front page article, entitled ‘Call for national debate on Muslim sex grooming’ (4 March 2015) only serves to divide communities.
Much has been said about the ethnic backgrounds and Muslim heritage of the abusers. Yet there is absolutely nothing in Islam that would permit let alone encourage such heinous acts. Just as there is nothing in Christian values or indigenous British culture that would condone the abuses revealed in the Jimmy Savile scandal, the allegations centred around the so-called ‘Westminster paedophile ring’, or the significant UK element of the international paedophile ring uncovered by Operation Rescue in 2011, to name but a few.
Clearly there have been failings. No-one should hide behind the pretence of hurting sensibilities to prevent the pursuit and punishment of wrongdoers. If there is a reluctance amongst some within the police, local councils or faith communities to report abuse, than this is a failure to recognise the absolute need to stand up for justice in all scenarios. The important point is this: as well as those who have perpetrated these abuses having defied clear and unequivocal injunctions within Islam, every single one of these abusers – as people of faith or not – have violated the very code of our humanity. Therein lies their most terrible crime.
We strongly support initiatives that both make it easier for victims to come forward and seek assistance so we are able to expose heinous scandals such as these, as well as more effective methods to protect young people from falling victim to abuse across the country. To these ends, we echo the call for further work and analysis of the OSCB report to understand precisely how this criminality is able to develop, in order to ensure the safeguarding of children in the future.
However, the crass choice of headline associating the Muslim faith with such vulgar crime and abuse is unsupported by evidence and is insulting to their victims and people of faith. Nor does it do justice to the otherwise important exposure of these abuses made by your newspaper.
Dr Shuja Shafi
Muslim Council of Britain