SEVERAL Oxford mosques did not take part in yesterday’s simultaneous anti-grooming sermons held across the country.
Hundred of sermons took place after a gang of seven men from Oxford were given prison sentences totalling at least 95 years for sexually exploiting girls as young as 11 in Oxford. Five were of Pakistani origin and two were from North Africa.
But Oxford Islamic leaders yesterday said it was wrong to link child sex grooming cases to their religion as the abusers were not practising Muslims.
Together Against Grooming (Tag) said 500 mosques across the country were taking part in sermons to address the issue at Friday prayers.
But those who attended the Madina Mosque in Stanley Road, the Bath Street Mosque and Oxford Central Mosque in Manzil Way said they did not take part.
Imam Monawar Hussain, of the Oxford Foundation youth project, went to Friday prayers at the Central Oxford Mosque in Manzil Way and said the Imam of the mosque spoke about Ramadan and charity.
He said the Tag sermons were a “publicity stunt” and fed into the far-right agenda that grooming gangs stemmed from the Islamic culture.
He said: “Most of the guys who did this in Oxford were not going to the mosque. I have always felt it is not a race or religious issue.
“They are talking to the converted. Every single Muslim knows it is abhorrent.”
Riaz Ahmed, chairman of the Madina Mosque, said it was unneccessary to address the problem in mosques.
He added: “It is not a specific subject that you need to talk about in the mosques.
“If you are a person that goes to mosques you would be a million miles away from this type of activity. Like oil and water they do not go together.”
And he said: “As far as grooming issue is concerned I think that is now history.
“This pattern of child abuse has finished. This sentencing I am sure has assured that.”
The sermon mentioned the “wicked and evil crime” of child sex exploitation and also the Oxford case. It read: “We need to continue to speak against and oppose this crime and make sure that there is a high level of awareness of this issue among our community.”
Abdul Rouf, chairman of the Bangladesh Welfare Association in Oxford, said the issue was not mentioned at the Bath Street mosque.
He said it was not necessary to run a special sermon.
He added: “Anybody who is a Muslim knows that any sort of crime is against Islam.”
The Summertown-based Oxford Islamic Congregation and the Cowley Road-based Bangladeshi Islamic Mosque were yesterday unavailable for comment.
Tag yesterday expected 500 mosques across the country to run the sermon.
Spokesman Ansar Ali said: “We have been horrified by the details that have emerged from recent court cases. As Muslims we feel a natural responsibility to condemn and tackle this crime.”