A Koran teacher who sexually abused a young girl over a nine-month period had his sentence suspended based on the argument that he could not go to jail and leave his dependent wife and family – sparking outrage among rights groups.
“I did not want it, but I was too afraid to say something,” the victim told the court of her teacher touching her.
The Daily Mail reports that Suleman Maknojioa, an Islamic scholar, had been giving private Koran lessons to the 11-year-old victim and her two brothers in their home. When their mother heard the boys talking about how their teacher had rubbed their sister’s leg and chest, she immediately called the police.
Maknojioa, 40, was found guilty of five counts of sexually abusing a child and sentenced to 40 weeks jail.
The sentence was suspended, however, for two years, when Maknojioa told Preston Crown Court that he had kidney problems and that his wife did not speak English and was dependent on him. He also cited his six children as a reason that he could not leave his family and do time.
The Attorney General’s office will now review the suspended sentence, having received multiple complaints.
“We received around 50 requests to review the sentence of Suleman Maknojioa,” a spokesman for the office said.
A friend of the victim’s family, who chose to remain anonymous, said the family is equally shocked.
“What type of message does this send out to pedophiles? He should be behind bars for this type of abuse. We are all horrified.”
Muslim women’s groups have figured largely in the campaign against Maknojioa. The Muslim Women's Network UK wrote a letter to the Attorney General’s office asking for the decision to be reviewed.
Chairman Shaista Gohir said such abuse is a chronic problem in the community.
“Such unduly lenient sentences damage the public confidence. Victims of sexual abuse within the Muslim community find it very difficult to speak out, especially if the perpetrator is a religious teacher as they are held in such high esteem,” she said, adding that the Muslim community needs to “be the first to speak out” instead of blaming the victim.