THIS week, Iman Irfan Chishti, a Muslim cleric in Rochdale said: 'I acknowledge that race is a factor but it is one of many others in what is a very complex issue.' He added: 'There are a number of other factors such as vulnerability, poor education and the night time economy, and ... what actually went through these men's minds to allow them to commit these crimes.'
Iman Chishti was speaking after Rochdale's Labour MP, Simon Danczuk, had spoken of the 'disturbing attitudes towards women shown by some in the Asian community' in Rochdale and following the comments of Judge Gerald Clifton, who last week jailed a gang of Asians from Rochdale and Oldham for exploiting underage white girls. Judge Clifton, jailing the men, had said the men picked on the white girls because they were not of the same 'community or religion'.
This is a touchy subject and one that requires further investigation both locally and nationally. Anyone who has seen the film 'Slumdog Millionaire' will know that on the Indian subcontinent exploitation does not just involve young girls but can involve vulnerable young boys who can be exploited as beggars. The publication Northern Voices intends to use its contacts in the Asian community to find out more about these matters. We believe that Iman Irfan Chishti is right to say this is 'a very complex issue' and needs more research.