EDITOR’S OPINION: Rotherham Muslim group refuses to co-operate with South Yorkshire Police

The Star's front page from October last year
The Star's front page from October last year
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I’m not sure who is advising British Muslim Youth in Rotherham, but last night they inflicted significant damage upon their own reputation, and now risk bringing Rotherham’s entire Muslim community into disrepute.

A statement made yesterday made it clear that the group, whose slogan is: ‘those of peace, harmony unity and tolerance’ has pulled down the shutters on the law, refusing to co-operate with South Yorkshire Police.

The Star's front page from October last year

The Star's front page from October last year

READ BRITISH MUSLIM YOUTH’S STATEMENT HERE

The community group declared the communication black-out yesterday, closing ranks on the police force until further notice.

But in an astonishing threat to other Muslims in the beleaguered town, the group said: “Any Muslim groups or institutions in Rotherham that do not adhere to this policy of disengagement will also be boycotted by the Muslim community.”

So let’s get this straight; the Muslim community is fed up being demonised, ostricised, and isolated. But, if anyone of Muslim faith should need to turn to South Yorkshire Police for help, they will be cut off from their network of friends, family and associates? The naivety and hypocrisy of this is dumbfounding.

The statement goes on to throw in a veiled threat of vigilantism. At least that’s how I read it. Here it is: “We will not be treated as criminals any longer, nor will we be held responsible for acts of personal self-defence. If South Yorkshire Police cannot adequately protect and serve the Muslim residents of Rotherham; then moving forward we will take all the necessary action to protect ourselves within the confines of the law, whilst maintaining a process of disengagement and non-communication with South Yorkshire Police.”

That’s not how law and order works in this country, I’m afraid.

Now there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Muslim community has come under vicious attack since Alexis Jay’s explosive report which revealed a level of unprecedented child sexual exploitation in the town.

Roll forwards 13 months where we’re confronted with the story of gentle 81-year-old Mushin Ahmed being kicked to death...’because he looked Muslim’. The mere thought of that level of stupid brutality makes me sick, and in that context, is there any wonder that people feel moved to take steps to protect themselves?

The Jay report unswervingly exposed a small group of organised Pakistani men as the principal exponents of that abuse. But that they were Pakistanis is now immaterial to me. Ethnicity, faith or otherwise: none of it matters. What matters is that they were child sex monsters, and that is why we all need to cooperate with the authorities until these predatory men are locked up for life.

Remember Vanessa George? Angela Allen? Colin Blanchard? No, probably not as they weren’t Muslim child abusers. They were white child sex abusers whose hunting ground in 2009 was a nursery in Plymouth where one of the women worked. Did other white people in Plymouth then get kicked to death in ‘revenge’ attacks? Of course not. Am I beginning to get my message across, here?

I said it in the wake of Mr Ahmed’s killing: We must NOT fall into the trap of believing that the child abuse issue in Rotherham is a product of Islam. Get real.

READ STAR EDITOR JAMES MITCHINSON’S VIEW ON THE KILLING OF 81-YEAR-OLD MUSHIN AHMED...’BECAUSE HE LOOKED MUSLIM’

What Jay uncovered was a gang of organised criminals: monsters; paedophiles; sickos. Call them what you like. All sex abusers are equally vile.

Now, I’m willing to put this down to the exuberence of youth, but...British Muslim Youth, stand down. Admit you’ve made a mistake, and retract your disengagement with the law. Why?

1. You are forgetting the real victims, and that is unforgivable. Jay discovered 1,400 young people whose innocence and vulnerability were preyed upon by paedophile rapists. Until each and every child gets justice, we all owe it to them to be as open and honest with the police as we possibly can be;

2. Declaring non-compliance with the law plays into the hands of the people likely to demonise your community. They will say: ‘Oh, how convenient. The Muslims don’t want to tell the police anything. They’re refusing to share information. That’s what got us into this mess’, they’ll say;

3. You’re making the job of South Yorkshire Police even more difficult. You say they must acknowledge their failings - they have. But going to ground as a group, with a veiled threat of vigilantism against the entire population of Rotherham Muslims is wrong, and only adds fuel to the fire that you’ve something to hide.

For the good of the 1,400 victims; for the good of Rotherham; for the good of South Yorkshire and for the good of community relations, British Muslim Youth, you must call off this misguided crusade immediately. You must get around the table with South Yorkshire Police and work together. Until you do, things will only get worse.