Mohammed Rabani, 61, a former imam at a mosque in Sneinton, Nottinghamshire, today (Thursday) received a five-year jail sentence after he was found guilty earlier this month of of three charges of indecent assault committed 25 years ago.
According to this report, Nottingham Crown Court’s judge Gregory Dickinson QC told Rabani that the fact that the offences were committed in a mosque was a breach of trust to the community as a whole, not just to his victim and his parents.
Rabani was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register after his release.
Speaking about his ordeal at the hands of imam Rabani as a boy, the victim said the actions of the spiritual leader were “beyond redemption”.
His moving victim impact statement said “people entrusted their children to him” and “children trusted him”.
I trusted him but he betrayed my trust and continues to betray the trust of everyone in the community by continuing to deny what he did to me. To claim to be a man of God – but actually be an abuser of children – is beyond redemption. Only God can forgive him.
The twice-married and “much-loved and respected” imam had denied the allegations – and claimed they were invented because he opposed a family’s business plan to redevelop the mosque.
The victim, now married and a father, said Rabani targeted him as a child because, although he was his father’s eldest son, he was not as confident as his younger brother.
I was actually quite a shy, easily influenced and reserved child. I know my confidence didn’t develop after I was abused and I believe that had it not happened, I may have flourished sooner.
He was a father figure to me and everyone. Not even my own family would believe what he was doing to me.
In addition, I was scared, because beatings at home and at the mosque were commonplace in our community. Children just did as they were told and adults were always right. As a result, I didn’t speak out.
Additionally, I thought it was normal. Because I also believed that Rabani should be trusted I assumed, because he was the imam, that whatever he did was right and that he was closest to God.
It was only later in life that he realised and understood that he had been abused.
The trial had heard Rabani carried out the repeated abuse after allowing him to smoke and watch movies in the attic of the mosque.
When he returned to the city as an adult, he demanded that Rabani be removed from the mosque. After meetings, Rabani stopped leading prayers but was allowed to continue teaching the Koran to children.
The decision for the victim to speak out was a difficult one. He said:
I just couldn’t stand and to see him lead prayers with such piousness and yet know that actually he abused me.
Rabani sat calmly in the dock with his hands clasped and his head down. The words of the barristers and judge were translated for the paedophile by a interpreter.
Clare Ashcroft, defending, said the defendant was “no longer the imam to the mosque” and there had been no further offending.
He has lost his good character, she added.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn