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Group hits back after grooming controversy
A group is leading calls to examine the way the media and Asian organisations have reacted to the grooming controversy surrounding the sentencing of nine men from Rochdale.
They have urged the courts to take more severe action against the perpetrators of these types of crimes.
One Voice is based in Lancashire.
They have been approached by sections of the media and local community groups to publicly condemn the acts.
“I don't know a single person who defends this,” says Asif Mahmud of One Voice. “The courts have rightly condemned the criminals.
"We believe harsher sentences should have been issued and the victims should be compensated by the guilty. Of course actions will need to be taken to eradicate these sexual crimes from society but to do this we must focus on the crime not on the beliefs and ethnicity of the criminals” The group has criticised the responses made by Baroness Warsi and Lancashire Council Mosques.
“We also need to educate the groups like Lancashire Council of Mosques not to serve the media stereotypes at every opportunity.
"It would be interesting to know how many individual members LCM consulted when agreeing to release their statement.”
Baroness Warsi told the Evening Standard newspaper earlier this month. “A small number of men of Pakistani heritage believe white girls are fair game for sexual abuse”.
And Lancashire Councils of Mosques response was deeply confusing as they mentioned this was “a bit like terrorism”.
“This public pressure to conform leads to those seeking to 'toe the line', or politically naive elements seeking public approval, to do exactly this,” continued Asif.
“The unfortunate consequence being that the focus remains on race and religion, rather than the wider aspects of a broken society, youngsters who have been failed by those entrusted to care for them.
“Mainstream politicians and organisations are reluctantly filling the space the EDL or BNP are threatening to take up. This then leads to the far right extremists setting or dictating the agenda.”
One Voice is in the process of creating a working group with the aim of bringing all the relevant agencies and charities together to tackle this threat of grooming in the region. “We all recognise that it is our duty to protect all vulnerable people and in particular children in our society.
"Whether they are white or Pakistani heritage should not make a difference. We urge people to stop commenting on the side lines and get involved with this initiative and keep our region free of these crimes,” added Asif.
A spokesperson from Raza Masjid, in Randal Street Blackburn, which is the largest Pakistani mosque in the town confirmed they were not contacted by the LCM.
“We are deeply disappointed with the remarks by the LCM and the implication that religion is an issue when it comes to grooming crimes. They did not consult us before making the comments. Had they have contacted us we would have put them straight.”