“Surah Adiyat,” my friend says. “I still remember the surah [chapter of the Quran] I was reading when he touched me. I was 8 years old.”
I ask my friend to identify the paedophile who abused him but my friend is reluctant to do so as his abuser is now dead.
However, I manage to find out from him that it was someone prominent in the Wimbledon area in south west London, possibly connected to Wimbledon Mosque, who “taught” Quran to children some 40 years ago.
For those of who you don’t know, Sir Jimmy Saville was a children’s presenter on the BBC for almost 20 years from the 1970s to the 1990s.
He used to have a children’s show called “Jim’ll Fix It” in which young children would write in to him and he would fulfill their dreams.
At the time, Jimmy Saville was every child’s hero, an angel who would make their dreams come true. I remember writing to him as a young boy, asking him to “fix” a trip to Disneyland for me.
The Queen honoured him with a knighthood (the “Sir” title) and he won dozens of other awards and accolades.
After he died in October 2011, over 450 people came forward to testify that he had sexually abused them. It appeared that Saville wasn’t just fulfilling the dreams of the children, he was fulfilling his own dreams.
For years the BBC was aware of these allegations but they refused to take them seriously. They thought that by brushing the matter under the carpet it would disappear.
And it’s just as well that Saville never replied to my letter. Instead of Disneyland I might well have ended up in Thailand if Jim had agreed to “fix” my dreams.
So the subject of this week’s blog post is to warn against Jimmy Saville imams (or Jameel Savilles if you like). By this mean I mean paedophiles disguised as imams.
Before I continue I just want to add that a few readers feel uncomfortable when I talk about taboo subjects on my blog.
Some fear that talking about such things “gives a bad name to Islam infront of non-Muslims.”
I think it is important that we remember that Islam is not an anti-aging beauty cream which we have to “sell” and “beg” people to buy from us. Islam is sufficiently robust to protect itself from image or reputation problems.
People who mock the Quran or the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have been doing it for centuries, it isn’t something new. Yet it has still not prevented Islam from remaining the fastest growing religion in the world, especially in Western countries.
We should be careful to distinguish between criticism of un-Islamic practices of Muslims, and Islam.
We should be confident to talk about taboo subjects and problems that exist within the Muslim community because the first step in solving a problem is to admit that it exists.
If we brush these issues under the carpet and pretend that they do not exist, we prevent our community from growing and progressing.
During the years I was in prison in the UK there were many outwardly “devout” Muslim prisoners in the “VP” wings (living quarters).
Among them were Muslim clerics in prison for abusing children they were supposedly teaching the Quran.
“VP” is a prison acronym for “vulnerable prisoner”, which means paedophiles, rapists, rats and other prisoners who are vulnerable to being attacked by other prisoners because of the nature of what they have done.
In UK prisons, VPs live, exercise, work and associate completely separate to mainstream prisoners. When VPs move within the prison, they are cordoned off from mainstream prisoners. There is no contact between the two groups.
Rats (informants, grasses, snitches, etc.) are definitely bottom of the prison food chain because even paedophiles look down at rats and frequently attack rats in their wings.
While in prison I met a Muslim prisoner who told me that when his younger sister was 12, his mum used to send her for Quranic lessons with a man at a shop.
It turned out that the teacher had been touching her inappropriately.
When her brother (the prisoner telling me this story) found out he wanted to go to the man’s shop and smash his face in, but his mother prevented him because it would bring “be-izzati” (dishonour) upon their family.
And then some Muslim prisoners from Slough told me about the “mawlwi on a bike” – a man in Slough who used to go round to the houses of families on a bicycle to teach their children the Quran
It turned out that he was also inappropriately touching the children, inside their own homes when the parents were not looking.
In this case, the families were brave enough to believe their children and take action. This paedophile went to prison.
These are real stories about real people that happened to people that I know.
The reason I am unashamedly writing about this topic is because there is no room for paedophiles in our community. We should not be afraid to confront and stand up to paedophiles, whether they are prominent people in the community or not.
A minority of Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis are paedophiles and rapists, so that means that the majority are not.
Likewise, thankfully the majority of Muslim imams, clerics and Quranic teachers are also not paedophiles and rapists.
Paedophiles and rapists are most certainly not “men of God” so we have to protect our children from these monsters at all costs.
Here are three ways that might help to protect our children from these Jimmy Saville Imams.
1.Don’t live in denial and pretend that these things do not exist in the Muslim community.
In other words, don’t wait before it is too late and you psychologically damage your child for the rest of his or her life.
2.Prevention is better than cure
If you have young girls, send them to a female teacher to learn the Quran.
If you have to send them to a male teacher, make sure it is in a communal place where the children are never left alone with the teacher.
If the male teacher comes to your house, keep your child in your sight at all times. If he is genuine, he will not mind you keeping an eye on him.
If you cannot find a suitable teacher, consider online lessons via Skype or Facetime. Many families who successfully use this method.
3. Believe your child and do not be afraid to take action
Just like you can spot their lies about whether they pinched the biscuits or not, you can easily ascertain whether your child is making up a story as an excuse not to go to lessons, or whether it really happened.
If it turns out that something has happened, do not be afraid to take action to help protect other children from the monster.
Of course, sexual abuse is most certainly not a “Muslim” problem.
I myself was groped twice during my arrest in 2003 by London Metropolitan Police officers “working for a safer London.” None of my abusers were Muslims. You can read my story here.
I am not ashamed to tell the world why sexual abuse is wrong so that it does not happen to other people.
The NSPCC has an excellent guide to help parents keep their children safe from abuse both online and in the physical world.
Do you have a story to share about paedophiles disguising themselves as imams or Quranic teachers? Why don’t you share it below?
Do you have any more suggestions on how we can protect our children from these monsters?
You can read my story here.
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