Muslim Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi has hit out at the “small minority” of Pakistani men who see white girls as “fair game”.
In outspoken comments following the Rochdale grooming scandal involving nine Muslim men, the Conservative Party co-chairman acknowledged that race was a factor.
She urged Muslim leaders to address the issue and ensure that men who regard white women as “third class citizens” are isolated by their communities.
Nine Muslim men, mainly of Pakistani origin, were found guilty last week of plying girls as young as 13 with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.
After the trial, Greater Manchester Police sought to play down suggestions of any racial element to the case, as did Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the home affairs select committee.
But Lady Warsi told London’s Evening Standard newspaper: “There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game.
“And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.
“This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against.”
Lady Warsi, Britain’s most senior Muslim politician, said she had decided to speak out after her father – who moved to the UK from the Punjab – told her she should be “out there condemning it as loudly as you could”.
“In mosque after mosque, this should be raised as an issue so that anybody remotely involved should start to feel that the community is turning on them,” she said. “Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong, this will not be tolerated’.”
She also urged the authorities to have the confidence to tackle allegations involving minorities.
“Cultural sensitivity should never be a bar to applying the law,” she said.