Since 26th August 2014, the date the Jay Report was published, the Muslim community has been under perpetual attack and demonisation. Over the last fourteen months, the Muslim community has time and again condemned the wholesale Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) that was brought to light. Whether in the form of a community conference; or a rally held outside of Town Hall – we have called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.
However despite this we, the entire Muslim community, have been tarred with the same brush. There is a perception in the minds of many ordinary people that all Muslims are now potential child abusers, or that they have been involved in some sort of a cover up. This is further perpetuated by fourteen far-right demonstrations in our town that have zapped poison into our local community. In turn our women have been threatened with rape, children attacked, Mosques vandalised, men physically assaulted whilst out earning their livelihood and an elderly man being murdered. The marginalisation and dehumanisation of the Muslim community has been in full swing.
What is the fault of school children who are called “groomers” in schools in this whole sordid affair? How can it be justifiable to threaten Muslim women with rape as a response to the findings of the Jay Report? Can anyone find a single reason to justify the murder of an innocent Muslim man? What reason do people have to smash Mosque windows?
Let it be made clear – if it was not already so – the Muslim community completely condemns all forms of Child Sexual Exploitation and will always stand with the victims of abuse. Our community, led by the organisation British Muslim Youth, held a rally in solidarity with the victims and called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted. However, the findings of the Jay Report cannot and must not be used to scapegoat and discriminate against the entire Muslim community due to the actions of certain individuals.
Islamaphobia is at unprecedented levels in Rotherham. According to figures collated by Tell MAMA, which records anti-Muslim hate crimes, there have been 27 attacks in Rotherham reported to them alone, in the last 12 months. This equates to more than 2 reports a month. Considering that Rotherham is a relatively small town, there is a real over-representation of hate crimes against Muslims in the town. Knowing what we know about the gross under reporting of such crimes, who knows what the real number is. One thing is for sure, the actual number will be many, many of times higher. This is simply the tip of the iceberg.
During this whole period the Muslim community have been made prisoners in their own homes. South Yorkshire Police have piggybacked on this hostile environment towards the Muslim community by deflecting the attention of their own failures by scapegoating us. They have peddled a pernicious lie that: historically they failed to act of allegations of CSE, because they were afraid of being branded ‘racist.’ This is a grotesque re-writing of history; something that we will no longer sit back and allow to take seed. South Yorkshire Police say one thing when speaking to a Muslim audience, yet when speaking to a different audience, the Muslim community is simply cannon fodder.
It is against this backdrop that: we, the Muslim community of Rotherham, have voted for all Muslim organisations and institutions (whether religious or secular), which claim to represent Muslims in Rotherham, to cut all lines of engagement and communication with South Yorkshire Police. This policy will be in effect until and unless South Yorkshire Police can treat our community with respect and fairness, just as we have done with the police force going back many decades.
Any Muslim groups or institutions in Rotherham that do not adhere to this policy of disengagement will also be boycotted by the Muslim community.
South Yorkshire Police must listen to our concerns and treat us as equal partners pursuing shared goals. There must be no more double speak from them. They have to own up to their failures, before they cause irreparable damage. This must happen immediately without further delay. The time for treating the Muslim community as a political football which can blamed for other people’s failures – is now over.
We will not be treated as criminals any longer, nor will we be held responsible for acts of personal self-defence.
If South Yorkshire Police cannot adequately protect and serve the Muslim residents of Rotherham; then moving forward we will take all the necessary action to protect ourselves within the confines of the law, whilst maintaining a process of disengagement and non-communication with South Yorkshire Police.
Note: Cutting all forms of engagement and ties with South Yorkshire Police does not mean that, you do not ring 999 at a time of an emergency, or you stop reporting crimes. The boycott is purely in terms of dialogue, communication and engagement with South Yorkshire Police when it comes to dealing with issues and matter concerning general policing and welfare of the Muslim community. For example if the police wish to come to a Mosque to deliver a talk or provide Muslim groups with some sort of training, this is the sort of stuff that will no longer take place, and from today will be boycotted.