Mohammed Haji Sadiq, 81, who taught Koran studies at a mosque in Wales, was sentenced yesterday (Friday) to 13 years in jail for sexually assaulting young girls.
Sadiq, who worked at the Madina Mosque for more than 30 years, denied 15 counts of indecent and sexual assault, but was found guilty of all but one count by a jury after his trial.
Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said:
You have not and you are still not showing any remorse at all for what you did. You appear to have no understanding of the harm and humiliation you inflicted on four young children.
Opening the case, prosecutor Suzanne Thomas said:
It was while he was teaching at the mosque, the prosecution say, that the defendant took advantage of his position.
The court heard that 81-year-old Sadiq created a culture where physical punishment was “normal”.
Prosecutors said he was a member of the Cardiff mosque until it was destroyed by fire in 2006.
The court heard the boys and girls in the class would call Sadiq “uncle” as a sign of respect.
The allegations involved four alleged victims and related to the period between 1996 and 2006.
Mike Jenkin, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
These women have shown remarkable courage in coming forward to speak about the abuse they suffered at the hands of Mohammed Haji Sadiq when they were young girls.
Sadiq was a respected figure in the community with considerable influence and power which makes the bravery of his victims all the more admirable.
The evidence given by these women meant the prosecution was able to present a compelling case to the jury, resulting in the guilty verdicts.
An NSPCC spokesman said:
This was an appalling breach of trust and Sadiq has rightly received a significant prison sentence for these heinous offences. He abused his authority and the faith placed in him to carry out a succession of sexual assaults against vulnerable children.
Clearly Sadiq’s actions have had a huge impact on his victims, both at the time and since, but it is thanks to their bravery that he has been brought to justice.
It is absolutely right that people who suffered child sexual abuse know where to turn for support and feel confident that their voices will be heard, no matter how much time has passed since their ordeal.
The BBC adds that the part-time imam abused his pupils if they made a mistake while reciting the Koran and would use a stick as a form of punishment in class, hitting people over the hand or hard on the back.
Some of his victims said they were afraid to attend the mosque because of his abuse. One said she had attempted to take her own life because of the abuse.
In victim impact statements read to the court, others said they felt they could not tell anyone about the abuse because of the culture they grew up in.
The court heard one victim feared the consequences of speaking out following Sadiq’s conviction. She said:
Due to my religion it was very difficult, almost impossible to tell anyone what had happened. In the Muslim religion we do not talk about personal matters.