MUSLIM leaders have joined calls for Yorkshire communities to unite together to rid themselves of the “cancer” of grooming gangs after 12 Asian men were jailed for a total of 130 years for sexually exploiting a vulnerable teenager.
Senior figures backed the Tory MP for Keighley, Kris Hopkins, who warned that the West Yorkshire town was top of the list of communities being plagued by the “sick model of organised groups of Asian men grooming young white girls”.
But he also stressed there were numerous white paedophiles who should be dealt with just as harshly.
The gang were jailed yesterday for a total of 130 years for the repeated rape and sexual abuse of a vulnerable schoolgirl who they saw as “utterly worthless”. Eleven were jailed for rape and a twelfth man was jailed for sexual activity with a child under 16.
Their white victim was aged 13 and 14 when she was repeatedly raped and sexually abused and passed around by the Asian men. In one sustained attack, she was raped by five men in succession.
Mr Hopkins issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the offences, and hit out at the criticism he faced three years ago for raising concerns in the Commons about “gangs of Asian men going around Keighley raping white girls”.
He said: “I was castigated from many quarters, received many abusive pieces of correspondence and on one occasion was forced to clear my constituency office after receiving a threat.
“This case, the many guilty verdicts reached and the heavy sentences rightly handed down underline the nature and the truth of the evil I spoke about back then and will continue to raise until it has been eradicated.
“I am very well aware that there are numerous white paedophiles out there and they should be dealt with just as harshly.
“But the sick model of organised groups of Asian men grooming young white girls to be sexually abused remains a blight at the heart of many communities across this country.”
Coun Abid Hussain, the deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford and a district councillor for Keighley Central, praised the police investigation and supported much of what Mr Hopkins said.
He added: “This should not happen in any community, especially Muslims. Our religion does not teach us to do this. I hope this kind of activity never takes places again in Keighley.”
Bradford Council leader Dave Green admitted that exploitation was an issue “which goes right into the heart of every community”. But he warned against using language that inadvertently makes it more difficult for people to come forward.
Last year, religious leaders, councillors and community groups joined forces for the United Keighley initiative to condemn sexual grooming.
Mr Hopkins said the town’s name has been blighted by “heinous acts of sick men preying on vulnerable young girls”, and appealed to the public to come forward if they knew of anyone involved in exploitation.
‘Arrogant, contemptuous’ gang jailed: Page 6.