Muslims hear child-grooming condemned

Worshippers at about 500 British mosques have heard sermons condemning the sexual grooming of children after a number of paedophilia cases involving Muslim gangs.

The latest case involves seven men, most of Pakistani origin, who were convicted of running a paedophile grooming ring in the university city of Oxford. Five were given life sentences on Friday and two jailed for seven years.

"We have been horrified by the details that have emerged from recent court cases and as Muslims we feel a natural responsibility to condemn and tackle this crime," said Ansar Ali, spokesman of the campaign group Together Against Grooming.

"The Koran and traditions of our prophet exhort us to act against evil and injustice, and create just societies," he said.

The campaign has been supported by key Muslim groups, including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board and the Islamic Society of Britain.

Far-right groups such as the English Defence League and the British National Party have taken advantage of the grooming cases to stir up anti-Muslim hatred.

The sermon also comes at a time when community relations have been strained by the murder of a British soldier Lee Rigby by two suspected Muslim extremists.

There has been an increase in attacks on Muslims and Islamic centres since the killing in May, according to community groups.

"The combination of publicity from a number of these [grooming] cases hitting the headlines in a short space of time and the fallout from the Woolwich case will create a major challenge for the Muslim community," congregations were told in the sermon.

The men convicted as part of the Oxford ring used drinks and drugs to subdue their victims.

- AAP

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