Sex gangs: more of a religious than a racial thing

Mainstream media organizations have been describing grooming gangs as 'Asian' and their victims as 'white', but this type of offending is informed by Islam, writes Christopher Goff.

A week hardly goes by without a new grooming gang sex case hitting the headlines. The pattern to this criminal offending has become all too familiar: non-European immigrant men, or non-European men of immigrant extraction, have been found to be organizing themselves into gangs in order to sexually abuse vulnerable white females, including young women, teenagers and children. And while mainstream media organizations have been describing the men who commit these crimes as 'Asian', it would be more truthful to say that it is 'Muslim' men who have been carrying out these unspeakable crimes.

The latest case has been the one from Newcastle and which forms part of Northumbria Police's ongoing investigation into grooming gangs, called Operation Sanctuary. Eighteen members of a grooming gang were convicted of abusing young females in Newcastle and are awaiting sentencing. The court head how the gang's victims were plied with drugs and alcohol before being forced to have sex with men. Over the course of four trials, 20 young females gave evidence against 26 defendants who faced a total of more than 100 charges. On the BBC News website (9 August, 2017), it was reported how vulnerable young females had become "victims of an organized, cynical, systematic organization in which they were passed between their abusers", while victims spoke of being "too intoxicated" to defend themselves. But the ones who have been convicted tell only part of the story: to date there have been 461 arrests, 703 complainants have come forward and a total of 278 victims have been identified.

The 18 men convicted in Newcastle came from Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities, and which rather rubbishes the claim of any media organization wanting to simply describe the perpetrators of these crimes as 'Asian' – last time I looked at a map Iraq and Iran were in the Middle East, and Turkey was at the eastern edge of Europe. Other men jailed for their involvement in similar crimes in the UK have included a group of Somali's who were convicted for a range of crimes committed against young females in Bristol, including rape, sexual activity with a child, facilitating child prostitution, trafficking and paying for the sexual services of a child. The latest case in Newcastle comes on the heels of a number of other high profile sex abuse cases in Peterborough, Halifax, Oxford, Aylesbury, Rochdale and Rotherham, and where the common denominator amongst the perpetrators of these crimes has been a belief in Islam. And also, if this type of criminal offending really was an 'Asian' thing well then one would have expected to see Hindu or Sikh men in a dock before now, but that has not been the case.

Some people are at last beginning to wake up to the reality that the sex gang phenomenon is in fact a Muslim, as opposed to an Asian invention. Indeed, Tommy Robinson was spot on with his claim that Muslims were responsible for committing these types of crimes when he appeared on the BBC Newsnight programme way back in 2011. You might recall an incredulous Jeremy Paxman asking Robinson: "You are seriously suggesting that young white girls are being sexually exploited by what you say are gangs of Muslim men? Is that what you are suggesting? Seriously"? "Yes", replied Tommy Robinson, to which Paxman looked aghast. And lets not forget that Nick Griffin made these exact same claims to exactly the same person and on exactly the same TV programme a long time before Tommy Robinson did, as he has recently reminded us in a tweet of his: "It's 16 years since I told Paxman, but the BBC finally calls groomers 'Muslim' rather than 'Asian'".

Lets be clear, controlled media organizations do not have a problem as such with using the word 'Muslim', because whenever the media picks up on positive Muslim stories, like when Muslim volunteers collected rubbish in Birmingham when the binmen went on strike in that city, like when Muslims helped fellow Muslims after the Grenfell Tower fire, or like when the Muslim Mayor of London or the Muslim winner of Bake Off are up to something 'positive', then the term 'Muslim' gets used.

Sixteen years after Nick Griffin first tried to alert the authorities to the danger of Muslim sex gangs operating on Britain's streets, Trevor Phillips, the former Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has even woken up to the reality of this problem. In a recent article Phillips wrote for The Telegraph, he stated: "What the perpetrators have in common is their proclaimed faith. They are Muslims, and many of them would claim to be practising". And also, "It is not Islamophobic to point this out, any more than it would be racist to point out that the most active persecutors of LGBT people come from countries where most people are, like me, black".

Interestingly, the Shadow Minister for Women, Sarah Champion, recently wrote of the involvement of what she referred to as 'British Pakistani' men in sex gang crimes in an article of hers published in The Sun newspaper, but which later precipitated her resignation from Labour's frontbench after a number of her colleagues voiced their criticism, including fellow Labour MP Naseem Shah (Muslim) who described her comments as "incendiary and irresponsible". But I would add that in her article Champion failed to specifically identify Muslims as being the real perpetrators of these crimes, when the most cursory look at what has been going on up and down the country would have indicated to her the involvement of men from a number of different ethnic backgrounds besides what she referred to as 'British Pakistani'.

It has taken a while but the point has now been reached where some people are at last beginning to recognize the importance of viewing the sex gang phenomenon within the context of Islam. And it is these same people who are also switching on to the importance of trying to understand how the religion of Islam might be informing this type of offending.

Firstly, there is the deeply held contempt many believers in Islam hold for non-believers, or kafir. Secondly, there is the deeply held contempt many believers in Islam hold for women. And thirdly, and the least spoken about element of this dynamic, is the issue of slavery, or more particularly of sexual slavery, something which is undeniably deeply embedded in Islamic law. Muslims are encouraged to live in the way of Muhammad, who was himself a slave owner and trader, and it is said that there are more verses in the Quran telling Muslim men they can keep slaves than there are verses saying men should pray five times a day.

In 2014, it was reported how Islamic State had captured hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq, many of whom were subsequently entered into slavery. At around this same time it was also reported how ISIS had issued a list of 'do's and don'ts' governing the enslavement of women and girls, including details of 'permissible' sexual practices, in what became known as the ISIS 'Slavery for Dummies' guide. After being captured, the Yazidi women were transported by bus to the ISIS-controlled cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and where they were traded like cattle.

After this latest case from Newcastle, some people have suggested that the men convicted should receive harsher prison sentences because, and in their opinion, their crimes were racially aggravated. Former Conservative Policing Minister Mike Penning is one of the people who has said that members of grooming gangs should be treated as 'race hate criminals' so they can be handed tougher prison sentences, and he has written to Britain's top lawyer, Attorney General Jeremy Wright, urging him to consider changing legal guidelines.

While former Shadow Minister for Women, Sarah Champion, and former Policing Minister, Mike Penning, might think that the activities of members of grooming gangs constitute racially aggravated crimes, the fact that the perpetrators of these crimes are non-European and their victims European does not ipso facto make this the case. But because the religion of Islam has doubtless informed the behaviour of these men there is instead a case for treating their crimes as religiously aggravated ones.