Grooming gangs, Muslims and the media

The seven members of the Oxford grooming gang

Raza Nadim says that Muslims need to stop being apologetic about the recent grooming uproar.

With the recent conviction of the Oxford-based grooming gang we have, yet again, seen a disproportionate focus by the nation’s press on the ethnicity and religion of the men that perpetrated this crime rather than on the crime itself.

Throughout the high-profile cases that have been in the media recently a point has been made to show that it is “Muslim men” committing these crimes. Almost as if this is the modus operandi of Muslim men and as if somehow our community is okay with this kind of behaviour.

We all know these are lies, but due to the sensationalism in the portrayal of these cases, most of the general public don’t really contest the coverage of these stories.

Hate

Couple that with a lack of coverage of similar cases, but where the criminals are mainly white and Christian, you end up with an ill-informed society which is once again being taught that Muslims are an odd bunch of people who have sexual cravings for children – but especially white children because Muslims consider white people to be below them (if you know of any white sexual predators who respect the girls they groom, please let us know so that the criminals who happen to be Muslim can learn from them).

One of the main impacts is that it fuels further hate – you only have to read the comments on articles by “experts” to see that as these stories are publicised people are slowly but surely becoming more intolerant of Muslims.

EDL demonstrations on this issue have become the norm, you have MPs using simplistic language tarring the Muslim community too – all of these things are happening at the same time and are making attacks on Muslims part of the norm in such discussions.

It is up to the Muslim community to counter this onslaught – on the ground and online – if we are to have any chance of being seen as equal human beings. Currently we are painted as “the other” and we are not doing enough as a community to change peoples’ perceptions of our religion.

It is worth mentioning that it has been heartening to see some journalists highlighting the difference in reporting when it comes to white grooming gangs but it is still not enough – the debate is still skewed towards portraying Muslims as a problem.

Christians and Jews

Any online search shows that people of all backgrounds have sadly committed such heinous crimes but their community’s faith was never considered. When an all white British male gang is found guilty of the rape of an 18-month-old boy and sexually assaulting a three-month-old, as part of a paedophile network, the entire white British male population were not made to apologise.

When ultra orthodox Jews are sexually molested by members of their own community and then try to cover it up, no one said that the faith of Judaism is to blame.

Decades of clerical abuse and cover up have left the Catholic church at breaking point, but would any rational person blame white people as the root cause of this problem?

A simple Freedom of Information request to West Yorkshire Police shows that 47 out of 53 people arrested for grooming cases where “White Europeans” yet we don’t question all of European culture.

This portrayal of grooming gangs as an exclusively Muslim problem feeds into a bigger narrative that shows Islam as being incompatible with a civilised society. This oversimplification of the issues has meant that there is no serious debate on grooming and what needs to be done as a society to help support young girls who are victims of rape, but also what is it about British society that needs addressing to deal with the growing number of grooming cases.

There is a way out of this mess though – we need more Muslims to be more proactive in portraying Islam as it is (and the onus is on our mosques to lead this as otherwise we will only see pockets of activity on this) but also we need to stop being apologetic as a community.

This is not a Muslim-only problem, it is a problem that faces all societies and communities. It is only by being uncompromising when faced with poor reporting that we can bring the debate on to the real issues, and hopefully discuss how we can solve them as a society.

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