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Lord Pearson: My Lords, I beg you to ask the questions standing in my name on the order paper.
Lord Apologist: My Lords, the government funded Center of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse is working to build a more informed picture of the scale of these crimes and preventing them is a priority for the government. The independent Office for Police Conduct is currently conducting investigations into 33 police officers of varying ranks for potential criminal offenses and breaches of the standards of professional behavior linked to the Rotheram case.
Lord Pearson: My Lords, I fear that reply is shamefully inadequate, because these girls are usually raped several times a day, and so if we accept the views of our lead police officer for child protection, of Rotheram’s MP, and of the recent JM Quilliam reports, we seem to be looking at millions of rapes of white and Sikh girls by Muslim men. Only 222 of whom have been convicted since 2005. So my Lords, will the government ask our Muslim leaders whether the perpetrators can claim that their behavior is sanctioned in the Koran, and to issue a fatwa against it? And second, my Lords, will the government encourage a national debate about the various interpretations of Islam? Can we talk about Islam without being accused of hate crime?
Lord Apologist: My Lords, child sexual exploitation is a vile crime and it is not exclusive to any one community or culture, or race, or religion. Political sensitivities or cultural sensitivities should not get into the way of tracking down offenders and preventing future abuse. Can I say to noble Lords that I think we should be careful about our language on this matter because I’m … not least because I’m about to repeat a statement about inflammatory letters inciting a Punish a Muslim Day on April the 3rd. And so I think we need to be careful of how we approach this.
On the Koran, there’s nothing in the Koran that encourages the sort of activity that the noble Lord has referred to. In any case, the Koran would be trumped by the law of the land. Islam, like all world religions, neither supports, nor advocates, nor condones child sexual exploitation. Indeed, respect for women is inherent in its faith. And as my noble friend Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has just told me, one of the praises is, “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.”
So far as encouraging a debate as Islam is concerned, the government is supporting an initiative by British based Islam leaders of all denominations to dispel the poisonous interpretations of Islam that are peddles by Al Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS). And we’re taking a number of other initiatives in order to minimize the exposure of children to sexual abuse from whatever source.