Although the statement against child-sex grooming, to be read out in 500 British Mosques is to be very much welcomed, it is difficult to shake the feeling that this sermon is too little too late.
This sort of statement, distributed nationwide and to mosques catering for all flavours of Islam, Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiya, Ismaili and Sufi, could and should have been made, one, two, ten or fifteen years ago. This is because this Islamic Grooming is not a recent problem but one that has been around for far too many years, and one that was ignored by both the British Islamic communities and scandalously by the agencies of the state.
The text of the sermon, an extract of which can be found at the Hufington Post, seems to be primarily a public relations exercise. This sort of sermon, or Khutba could have been read years or decades ago, but it was not. The Imams should also have told their congregants that in Britain women are to be treated equally, but they did not. They could have told their congregants to consider ‘the law of the land as the law of the Muslim’ and that Shariah had to be de-prioritised, but they did not.
That they, and the rest of the British Islamic religious and political establishment, said nothing or very little about issues of organised child rape and oppression of women, speaks volumes on how much of a priority they gave these issues. Muslims in Britain were quite willing to take to the streets to burn Salman Rusdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, moan about non-existent massacres in Israel, protest against the Mohammed cartoons and to insult and assault our troops. Where were the mass movements of Muslims showing their disgust at the crimes of their co-religionists? Where were the ‘integrated, peaceful, loyal Islamic moderates’ we hear so much about?
This statement against grooming gangs is a slick damage limitation project, where the target audience for the sermon is not the average ‘man in the ummah’, but journalists and the mainstream commentariat. It would be wise to remember that the Muslim community and their organisations have been forced into this by growing public revulsion at the Islamic Grooming Gang phenomenon.
It would be nice to think of this public statement as a sign of positive Islamic reform, but many people will find it difficult to not have the worry that this sermon is just Taqiyya, or lying to protect Islam.
HuffPo article on the Islamic grooming gang sermon with excerpts from it.