Mohammed Haji Saddique, 81, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after being found guilty of serial physical and sexual abuse of girls during classes on the Koran at the Madina Mosque in Cardiff, Wales. He was alleged to have sexually touched the girls in front of his class and slapped them repeatedly when they made mistakes during lessons, sometimes beating them with metal rods and wooden sticks. He also poked them with the weapons.

Born in Hong Kong, he was raised in Pakistan before moving to Britain in 1967. Saddique was a member of the Madina Mosque, and involved in its operations as a treasurer and teacher of primary school students. Known to students as “Uncle Saddique” as a token of respect, Saddique taught four times per week at the mosque after school. The court heard that he touched girls beneath their traditional loose-fitting clothing during the lessons. He also rubbed them against his groin and leg.

During the sentencing, Judge Stephen Hopkins of Queen’s Court said, “You would attempt to maintain discipline and concentration by tapping or slapping the child sitting next to you who didn’t read correctly. Every time one of these small children made a mistake you would slap them until they got it right and slap them for every mistake they made.”

Police began their investigation in 2006 after hearing complaints from two girls. Saddique denied the accusations. The investigation got underway again in 2016 when two more girls came forward with their stories of abuse and how their lives were affected. Now in the 20s, the two witnesses provided victim impact statements that were read to the court, telling of the lasting impact of Saddique’s offenses.

Judge Hopkins said of one of the victims, “It has put her off religion, she deliberately doesn’t own a Koran. [For her] the ethos of going to the mosque at any time is that when you are there, God is protecting you. Her idea was shattered because you abused her when she was reading from the holy book.”

Saddique was found guilty of 14 offenses – six indecent assaults and eight sexual assaults – that took place between 1996 and 2006. Besides his 13-year sentence, Saddique, whose lawyer described him as a ‘frail and unwell’ great-grandfather, was ordered to register as a sex offender indefinitely.

Judge Hopkins told Saddique, “This was a gross breach of trust – parents sending their young, female children to be taught the Koran by you.”

After the sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Rob Cronick of South Wales Police said: “As a result of the verdict and today’s sentence I believe there may be members of the community who may now feel confident enough to speak to the police or our support agencies.”
 

 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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