Hundreds of people turned out in support of a Muslim youth group protest against child sexual exploitation in Rotherham today.
Speeches denounced the scandal which involved 1,400 victims of child sexual abuse in the town between 1997 and 2013 and protestors from the British Muslim Youth group gathered to make their voices heard.
The demonstration, involving about 200 people, passed peacefully and no arrests were made.
The event was organised after the Jay report into the abuse scandal revealed the majority of perpetrators of child sexual exploitation in the town were Asian men.
But those protesting spoke out against the abuse and called for ‘justice’ for the victims.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the British Ramadhan Foundation, said: “The grooming gangs have not only brought shame on themselves and the community but have damaged the lives of so many promising young girls.
“We want to see justice, we want to see justice for the victims and we want to see the community come together to say ‘not in our name’.
“There has been utter systematic failings in South Yorkshire Police. We want to see the system that has failed these girls changed so that people believe the victims rather than labelling them as ‘prostitutes’ or a ‘lifestyle choice.’”
Imam Qari Asim added: “This is a societal problem rather than a religious problem.
“The system has to be changed. I don’t know whether the people who have resigned did so because they are really sorry.
“We all need to work together on this.”
A week ago, an EDL rally held in Rotherham which was also speaking out against child sexual exploitation resulted in four arrests.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “South Yorkshire Police would like to thank the community in Rotherham following a peaceful demonstration in the town centre today (Saturday 20 September).
“A group of people from the British Muslim Youth and other organisations held a static demonstration outside the Town Hall earlier today.
“The demonstration passed peacefully and without any disruption. No arrests were made.
“The group dispersed at around 4.30pm. Extra police officers were on duty in the town to ensure the safety of the public and those taking part in the protests.
“Officers overseeing the policing of today’s event would like to thank the public of Rotherham and those taking part for their co-operation.”