Mosque leaders last night questioned why Keighley MP Kris Hopkins did not do more on the problem of child sex abuse when he was leader of Bradford Council.
On Tuesday, the Conservative MP told Parliament that “gangs of Muslim men were going around raping white kids” and claimed there was a fundamental problem in some British Pakistani households of women being treated as being inferior and “subservient”.
He also criticised the community of peers for not doing enough to change Muslim attitudes towards women which he described as being “a cultural thing that has set in right at the beginning”.
In response, a spokesman for Bradford Council for Mosques said it made it clear that it condemned any form or sexual exploitation or abuse but it also accused Mr Hopkins of overstepping his remit.
The spokesman said: “All of us, Muslim or non-Muslim, are equally appalled by the activities of criminals amidst our society. To suggest that the Muslim community does not care is grossly libellous. Kris Hopkins is right to draw the attention to the activities of the criminals and the plight of the victims but he has overstepped his remit.
“He has the right to be angry but, equally, a man of his position should be more discerning in what he says and how he says it. He should not overlook the fact that he went around pleading for votes from the same Muslim faith institutions that he so arrogantly dismissive of.
“Kris Hopkins, prior to being elected as an MP, was the leader of Bradford Council, a position that afforded him plenty of opportunities to tackle some of the issues that he has alluded to. He then found it convenient to remain tight-lipped. Perhaps now he feels that this type of outburst and candy martyrdom will secure him votes.”
The spokesman explained that “candy martyrdom” meant falsely professing or acting for a cause only to serve one’s own purpose and not through genuine belief.
In his speech in the House of Commons Mr Hopkins said questions needed to be asked why some Muslim youths carried an attitude that women were inferior which, he said, was a result of their upbringing. “I want to consider the way boys live in those households,” he said.
“I am afraid they are little princes: they can do nothing wrong, their behaviour is not challenged and eventually that can manifest itself.
“In one instance outside Bradford University Muslim men patrolled the streets verbally abusing women and girls all the time.
“Rather than the community of peers challenging that behaviour, we had to have a specific intervention to stop that sexual abuse of women.”
On girls being brought to Britain as brides, he said: “One reason which I think plays out is that women from Pakistan are subservient. They do not speak English or understand the values and freedoms that a girl born over her may live by. It is more convenient for a man to have a subservient woman in his household. They are not equal citizens.”
Mr Hopkins then went on to accuse some elders in Keighley mosques of “unacceptable” behaviour towards children – citing an example of an Imam who kicked and beat children.
Mr Hopkins was not available to comment yesterday but in a letter to the Telegraph & Argus, he said: “There has been a significant response to many of the points I made. I particularly welcome the acknowledgement from the Bradford Council of Mosques that there is a problem and I hope they will work with me and others in the community to map out an agreed way forward.
“Like Ann Cryer before me, I did not want to have to make the speech I did, but a proper and open debate is now under way. Most mainstream politicians have failed to address these issues, thereby handing racists in the BNP a grubby opportunity to fill the void. This cannot be allowed to happen again.”