Faith leaders in Sheffield claim Rotherham child abuse scandal is being used to breed hatred

EDL march and rally in Rotherham town centre.
EDL march and rally in Rotherham town centre.
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Faith leaders in Sheffield met on the steps of the Town Hall to express their support for the victims of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

They want to seek redress for those who have suffered and to offer support to families, communities and local businesses also affected by the sex abuse scandal.

An independent report found 1,400 children had been abused by largely Pakistani men over a 16 year period while authorities turned a blind eye because of the ethnicity of the offenders.

In an open letter, signed by faith leaders including Abdool Gooljar - President of the South Yorkshire branch of the Islamic Society of Britain and The Rt Rev Steven Croft - Bishop of Sheffield, the leaders said: “We recognise that child sexual exploitation is not a unique issue to one particular community but an issue that is prevalent across all communities. Therefore, communities must work together to put the protection of children at the forefront of everything they do.

“It is incumbent upon all faiths to protect the most vulnerable and at risk in their care.

“The Sheffield Faith Leaders express dismay that there are those who seek to use Professors Jay’s report as a political tool as part of a wider political agenda to demonise and misrepresent one faith community and vilify that faith.

“The priority and focus should be to redress the victims’ need. As faith communities we will ensure that we work together with all those affected to ensure that such immense failings across all sectors can never happen again.

“We stand with the communities of Rotherham who are being affected by those who are using Professor Jay’s report to incite hatred, racism and intolerance on a town that is still suffering from shock at the depth of such abuse.”

Meanwhile Sheffield MP David Blunkett has pledged to ask the Home Office whether there are powers that could divert any future proposed marches by far-right groups away from Rotherham town centre.