British Muslims urged to denounce sex crimes in forceful sermon

LONDON Fri Jun 28, 2013 5:33pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Muslims across Britain heard a sermon on Friday urging them to help prevent a recurrence of recent high-profile crimes such as organised child rape and the gruesome murder of a soldier in London, which have put their community in the spotlight.

Congregations in around 500 mosques heard the sermon arguing that Muslims must speak out following the conviction of men of Pakistani and east African origin on Thursday for running a child sex ring in the city of Oxford.

The case, where seven men were convicted of offences including child rape or sexual activity with children, followed others in Derby, Rochdale and Telford in which Muslim men, usually from Pakistani and South Asian backgrounds, were found guilty of 'grooming', or luring children into sex rings.

The murder of soldier Lee Rigby outside London's Woolwich barracks last month, which is being treated as terrorism, has prompted a series of demonstrations against Islam and a rise in islamophobic attacks, including suspected arson at an Islamic centre in London.

"The combination of publicity from a number of these cases hitting the headlines in a short space of time and the fallout from the Woolwich case will create a major challenge for the Muslim community," the sermon read.

"With so many individuals from a Muslim background involved in such crimes, we have a responsibility to condemn this," congregations heard, as they were encouraged to take action to prevent such acts.

Prime Minister David Cameron had called the Woolwich attack "a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country".

The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents Britain's nearly 3 million Muslims, sent out the sermon in conjunction with a group that campaigns against street grooming.

"We wholeheartedly condemn the disgraceful actions of those involved in these cases and welcome the convictions in the cases that have been through the courts," the sermon said.

"We wish to show our support for the (victims) of this terrible crime, many of whom are innocent children, and we wish to affirm that Islam as a religion of mercy and compassion places a strong obligation on safeguarding and protecting the weak and vulnerable from (oppression) and abuse, particularly of women and children."

Ansar Ali, spokesman for the Together Against Grooming project, said the sermon was unprecedented.

"We have brought together mosques and imams from all over the UK, irrespective of differences, to collectively deliver a hard-hitting sermon," he said.

"We are united in our stand against sexual grooming and, as Muslims, we are leading the effort to rid society of this crime."

(Reporting By Costas Pitas; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Comments (7)
wattypop wrote:
Will someone please define exactly what a ‘British Muslim’ is? The phrase is banded about, as if muslims are a differnet kind of British to the rest of British people. Why, in a country founded on Christian morality and law, do we have a situation where leaders of a community claiming to know God need to state the obvious by ‘teaching’their people to denounce hideous and criminal activity? Surely we have gone raving mad to allow this ‘community within a community’ to sever themselves from the foundations of everything this country holds sacred in both law and moral behaviour. Discerning between right and wrong at this level should be a basic human response, without the need to be told by a leader?!

Jun 28, 2013 7:18pm BST  --  Report as abuse
meolive wrote:
@wattypop
I’m afraid your comment only serves to highlight the worrying growth in xenophobic, culturally ignorant or, in many cases outright racist attitudes towards minorities in this country.

OF COURSE British Muslims know the difference between right and wrong. Public statements and sermons like this one are essentially for the benefit of people like YOU, who have made the ridiculous assumption that they don’t know, due to the actions of a few individuals.

Finally, the term British Muslim is used to denote someone who is British and who practices Islam. It’s that simple. Someone who is happy to be identified with both terms. It does not indicate they are a “different kind of British”, any more than a British Christian, British Buddhist or British Atheist would be.

Jun 29, 2013 10:18am BST  --  Report as abuse
wattypop wrote:
Interesting comment thank you meolive. And interesting use of inflammatory words; ‘ xenophobic, cultural, racist ,!!! Not wishing to insult you intelligence but you are falling into the same old trap of defensive gush when you wheel out these old chestnuts. I am concerned that in doing so you attempt to close the debate by crying wolf- you do the cause for tolerance and open intellegent dialogue much harm. Reread my earlier comment and try to see the main points being raised are to do with Britishness, British Culture (or perhaps the failure of multiculturalism?), political correctness, political Islam). I.e. is the recent ‘teaching and preaching” a spiritual and cultural issue or a political one?
Rather than see persecution when practice is questioned why not see opportunity to review practice? With respect, and with offence intended.:)

Jun 29, 2013 2:03pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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