Columbus, Ohio police are investigating allegations of child abuse at a local mosque after an elementary teacher from a nearby school told police regarding conversations she had with her students about discipline they received at the mosque.
The teacher who reported the possible abuse remains unnamed. She teacher an English as a second language class comprised mostly of Somali children.
The conversation between the teacher and students started when the teacher told her students she was impressed with their knowledge of the Quran. In response one of the students told her that “if they do not learn their religious passages as instructed,” they sometimes are “chained to a wall by their wrists and ankles and beaten with a long stick.”
Another student told the teacher that he was “beaten with a belt on his legs” and saw another student who “had his head stepped on for complaining of a headache.”
The mosque the students attend is Masjid As-Salaamah in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio news station 10TV, the first outlet to break this story, talked with Masjid As-Salaamah board member Mahdi Warsama about the allegations.
"We understand the seriousness of this," he said. "We understand that these are innocent kids. These things cannot happen in our watch. If there is any merit to these allegations, I assure you, Masjid As-Salaamah will deal with it professionally, and swiftly, and responsibly."
Warsama says the mosque conducted an internal investigation and “couldn’t find anything to support these allegations.”
Regardless of the findings of Masjid As-Salaamah’s internal investigation, the Columbus Police Department is currently conducting an investigation of their own.
The Westerville school district released a statement on the investigation today.
"Given the nature of the information shared by students with their teacher, school officials were obligated to immediately file a report with the authorities, which they did. Those authorities have determined that an investigation is merited."