Thursday, 28 March 2013

Cambridge mosque: the madrassa and child protection law

I don’t think I’ll be the only person awaiting Cambridge City Council’s publication of its latest East Area Committee minutes, given the arresting first paragraph of Chris Havergal’s article for the Cambridge News:

Muslims have been allowed to worship in an extension which nearly doubles the capacity of Cambridge’s main mosque despite councillors claiming they had “no confidence” rules controlling use of the building would be observed.

As I’ve said, I know nobody who wants mosque-users to be leant on more than other worshippers in Cambridge. We just want the law of the land applied consistently across all communities.

Amid talk of threats and abuse towards local residents, what is also concerning is that the mosque has (without permission) been running a madrassa for children during Friday prayers.

Given Khalid Mahmoud MP’s warning about 40 madrassas in Birmingham where volunteers weren’t subject to oversight or CRB checks, I must ask: to what statutory body does the madrassa in the Mawson Road mosque answer? Have the volunteers been CRB-checked, recognising that, in the words of the Cambridgeshire Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, "abuse from staff, carers and volunteers…can occur in any setting"?

This isn’t an academic question. 18-year-old Adil Rashid was recently convicted of raping a 13-year old girl he met on Facebook after learning in his Birmingham madrassa that a woman resembles “a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground”, ie fit for disposal once perceived to be soiled.

Child protection is meaningless unless it applies to every child within these shores. I hope Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County councillors will be more perspicacious in pursuing the interests of children in the Mawson Road madrassa than they have been in looking after those of voters affected by the mosque – whose votes, they seem to think, are fit for disposal.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Resources

Cambridgeshire Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual:

Cambridge mosque extension allowed to remain in use despite noise concerns - Cambridge News

Fears raised over 40 madrassas operating in Birmingham without checks - Birmingham Mail

Muslim abuser who 'didn't know' that sex with a girl of 13 was illegal is spared jail - Daily Mail

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