Islamophobimania: British police fail to investigate Muslim child sex gang for fear of being called racist
Distinguishing actual racism from the witch hunt of Isamophobimania could be critical if Britain is to avoid another episode like the Rochdale rapes
British Children’s Minister Tim Loughton recently announced a new plan to target child sex trafficking: investigate the conditions in residential childcare homes. The announcement comes after a trial that shocked Britain, wherein nine Muslim men were convicted of trafficking and raping dozens of non-Muslim British children.
While Loughton’s proposed initiative is necessary and laudable, the childcare homes are only half the problem. Initial findings suggest that childcare homes are often “clustered” in high-crime areas which bring the children into contact with high levels of criminal activity and registered sex offenders.
Loughton’s plan focuses on measures to protect children before crimes happen but fails to address the egregious failure of police and social workers to investigate the long-term abuse of children that had already occurred.
For more than a decade, police were aware of of child trafficking and gang rape groups in the Pakistani Muslim community but failed to take action because they were afraid of being labeled racist.
The nine men found guilty received a total of 77 years in prison for rape, aiding and abetting rape, conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child, sexual assault, and trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Alleged ringleader Shabir Ahmed was already on the sex offender registry, and yet the police failed to protect children from him. Two other defendants were acquitted, and a twelfth alleged gang member jumped bail and fled to Pakistan in 2011.
The gang members used drugs, alcohol, gifts, and flattery (proven effective for luring females with low self-esteem into abusive situations) to lure 47 identified girls, some as young as 13, into their sex ring. The girls were regularly given to multiple men a day. At least one victim was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night.
Despite the plethora of evidence against them, the convicted rapists claim the investigation was based solely on racism and Islamophobia. Ahmed, a 59-year-old father of four, called the judge a “racist bastard” after the judge accused the defendants during sentencing of targeting young white girls because the girls were not part of their “community or religion.” At least one defendant intends to appeal based on a claim of racism.
It seems as though Islamophobimania, the intense fear of being deemed Islamophobic, leading to irrational and socially harmful behavior, has taken hold in the British police.
Over the last five years, the word "Islamaphobia" has been twisted from referring to racism against Muslims to being a slur for anyone who speaks critically about Islam in any context. The manipulation of the term is partially a product of lawfare, the abuse of law as a weapon of war.
The goal is to punish free speech, which has created a detrimental chilling effect, first in the public sphere and apparently now among the police. Individuals are wrongfully accused of Islamophobia merely for attempting to engage in legitimate public dialogue about matters of national security and Islamist terrorism. There are even websites dedicated to “naming and shaming” alleged Islamophobes: Islamophobia Today and Islamophobe Watch.
The fear of the “Islamophobe” slur is not unfounded: people suffer harm and even lose their livelihood because of it. UK libel jurisprudence is currently written so as to make defendants guilty until proven innocent, which has created serious issues of “libel tourism,” filing defamation lawsuits in British courts despite dubious connections to the UK precisely because the libel laws are so favorable to plaintiffs.
The statement of the defendant is presumed to be untrue until proven otherwise. An amended libel law is currently working through the Parliament. Khalid bin Mahfouz, a now-deceased wealthy businessman from Saudi Arabia, has sued or threatened to sue over 35 publishers and authors for linking him to terror financing.
In March, British students who feared charges of Islamophobia canceled a speech by human rights attorney Brooke Goldstein at the University of Leeds. Goldstein had intended to speak about attacks on free speech and against the use of Muslim children as suicide bombers.
In the United States, the New York City Police Department is being sued by a Muslim “John Doe” for workplace harassment because counter-terrorism consultant and CIA official Bruce Tefft emailed articles about terrorism to a voluntary recipient list.
Last November, a British-Lebanese Christian brought suit against Heathrow Airport after being fired for being “anti-Islamic” according to her Muslim co-workers, who she accuses of harassment over her Christian beliefs. The letter from her employer stated that “Whilst I do not believe that you may have meant to be offensive, I believe that it was not unreasonable for the individuals who either heard these comments, or who they were directed at to find them offensive, and they are extremely inappropriate."
Civil servants may have feared that being labeled Islamophobes could get them fired, sued, publicly condemned, or resulted in lawsuits against their employers. Unfortunately, those fears may have been reasonable, if morally reprehensible in this particular case.
This case has victims no one could have predicted: children preyed upon by pedophiles. The world lives in fear of being labeled Islamophobic, and this is the unfortunate consequence of the fearmongering created by Islamophobimania. British civil servants chose political correctness over the health and safety of at least 47 girls, if not more.
The slippery slope of Islamophobia has gone too far this time. The police and social workers—those sworn to serve and protect the public—apparently refused to do their job because of the chilling effects of Islamophobimania.
According to former Labour MP Ann Cryer, "This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness." The police and other British civil servants have a responsibility to do their job, and the public has a responsibility to distinguish actual racism from the witch hunt of Islamophobimania.
Skylar Curtis is a human rights attorney based in New York City. She is a Research Attorney at The Lawfare Project
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