Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

'400 abuse claims' at madrassas

There have been over 400 allegations of abuse at Britain's madrassas in the last three years, figures show (AP)

More than 400 allegations of physical abuse at Britain's madrassas were made in the last three years, figures show.

But only 10 cases went to court, with only two leading to convictions, raising concerns over the extent of the abuse in the part time Islamic schools, a report found.

The figures, obtained by BBC Radio 4's File on 4 under freedom of information laws, showed tighter regulation of the schools, which take up to 500,000 students a day in England, Scotland and Wales, was needed, a Muslim think-tank said.

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, founder of the Muslim Institute, told the BBC there should be a national registration scheme.

"We are basically destroying the lives of young people," he said.

"Some kind of system must be put in place to ensure that only teaching takes place there, not sexual or physical abuse."

The figures from 180 local authorities showed there were 420 alleged cases of physical abuse in the last three years.

Among those councils which broke down the figures by year, there were 89 abuse allegations in 2008, rising to 178 in 2010 and 146 in the first nine months of this year.

Corporal punishment is legal in part-time education settings in England, including in madrassas, if lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week.

Mohammed Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, told the BBC the figures were "very alarming and shocking".

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