A Conservative candidate at next year’s general election has publicly questioned why so much “focus” is being put on Muslim men over child sexual exploitation. Iftikhar Ahmed, who is running in Bradford East, suggested it is unfair Christianity was not also being put in the spotlight.
Mr Ahmed warned an audience at the ‘Child Sexual Exploitation: the Muslim Community’s Response’ event in Bradford that there were “thousands of white paedophiles in this country”. But that the “focus” was not on them, and was instead directed towards Pakistani men.
According to The Times he said: “I’m Pakistani and I’m not a sex groomer. Why are we putting the focus on Pakistani men and on Islam? There are thousands of white paedophiles in this country. We don’t put the same focus on Christianity.”
His comments directly contradicted other speakers at the event, which was organised to help shape a response to the problem of child abuse. Shaista Gohir, from the Muslim Women’s Network warned that “nothing will change” if the Pakistani community continue to ignore abuse due to “community sensitivities”.
Gohir said: “Nothing will change unless we start talking about taboo issues such as child sexual exploitation… I’m Pakistani and Muslim. How can you ignore all these cases? We mustn’t allow community sensitivities to lead us to disregard it.”
Her comments were echoed by Ansar Ali, from the campaign group Together Against Grooming. He cited evidence that Pakistani Muslims were “disproportionately represented” in grooming related sex crime. Mr Ali said: “There’s no simple link with culture or religion, but we can’t sit back and say this isn’t an issue that’s relevant for us. This is our community and we have a duty to do something about it.”
Ahmed is a long standing member of the Bradford Pakistani Community and was even elected President of the local Conservative Party, a position reserved for highly respected party members. He is also involved in the Conservative Muslim Forum, and joined their chairman Lord Sheikh on a visit to Bradford in December 2013.