An imam who sexually touched four young girls during Qur’an lessons at a mosque has been jailed for 13 years, reported The Guardian.
Mohammed Haji Saddique, 81, would call the pupils to sit next to him and read in Arabic from the Muslim holy book. He sexually touched the girls in front of his class and slapped students repeatedly if they made mistakes during lessons.
Cardiff crown court heard that Saddique – of Cyncoed, Cardiff – had metal and wooden sticks, which he used to poke the children as they studied.
Saddique, who taught at the Madina mosque in Cardiff for more than 30 years, was convicted of the offences following a trial. A jury found him guilty of 14 offences – six indecent assaults and eight sexual assaults – that took place between 1996 and 2006.
Judge Stephen Hopkins QC jailed Saddique for 13 years and ordered him to register as a sex offender indefinitely.
“All four complainants were very brave indeed in overcoming not only personal but cultural barriers which they faced in making formal complaints and giving evidence against you,” the judge said. “There is a darker, deviant side to you which this trial has exposed. This was a gross breach of trust – parents sending their young, female children to be taught the Qur’an by you.”
Saddique, who insisted the allegations were a conspiracy by other members of the mosque, had “no idea” of the harm caused by his actions, the judge said.
The court heard Saddique was born in Hong Kong and moved to Pakistan before coming to the UK in 1967, eventually settling in Cardiff. He was a member of the Madina mosque and was involved in running it, including as a treasurer and teaching Qur’an studies to primary school pupils.
Classes take place four times a week after school and pupils referred to the imam as “Uncle Saddique” as a mark of respect, the court heard.