Mohammed Haji Sadiq, a part-time imam who taught young kids about the Qur’an at a mosque in Wales, was just sentenced to 13 years in jail for his repeated assaults of four girls between the ages of 5 and 11. He reportedly abused them when they made a mistake in class.
In sentencing Sadiq, who made at least one of his victims attempt suicide, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said the defendant took advantage of his position:
“Children called you ‘uncle’ as a mark of respect. You are a man in my judgement of some cunning… Beneath the veneer there is a dark and deviant side.”
For those who thought this was only a problem among Catholic priests, this should be a wake-up call. Sexual assaults are all too common within the Muslim tradition, too, and for many of the same reasons as we see in other institutionalized faiths without proper regulation.
For one, a number of Sadiq’s victims reportedly said they couldn’t tell anyone about the abuse because of cultural and religious taboos.
One girl said:
“Due to my religion it was very difficult, almost impossible to tell anyone what had happened… In the Muslim religion we do not talk about personal matters.”
Does that sound familiar? This is a common concern for survivors of assaults from Catholic clergymen.Another of Sadiq’s victims echoed the sentiments of the first in court. She said it was “not acceptable” to discuss what happened at the mosque.
“I remember the relief I felt when I told my mother, and she believed me and went to the police… In my family honour is very important, but my family have been very supportive.”
Rob Cronick of South Wales Police noted the courage it took for the girls to come forward.
“As a result of the verdict and today’s sentence I believe there may be members of the community who may now feel confident enough to speak to the police or our support agencies.”
The survivors who spoke out against their abuser were universally praised for doing so, but that’s not enough. We have to reform these institutions, Muslim and Christian alike, to make sure children feel comfortable telling the truth about their experiences.
It’s no secret that people in positions of authority will often take advantage of others, but when that is combined with an outdated ethical code and a lack of regulation, we see ongoing abuse and cover-ups. That’s what we need to stop.
(Screenshot via YouTube)