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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Imam caught agreeing to marry off a 14-year-old girl gets job back
An Birmingham-based Imam has been handed his job back at the Jamatia Islamic Centre in Sparkhill after being suspended for agreeing to marry a 14-year-old girl.
Sajid Zafar Hussain was originally suspended last month after two undercover TV reporters caught him on camera agreeing to marry off a 14-year-old girl.
The ITV Exposure programme visited 56 mosques across the country and asked clerics to perform an Islamic marriage ceremony, known as a nikah.
Mr Hussain and imams at 17 other mosques agreed.
The reporters were posing as the schoolgirl’s mother and brother and asked Hussain if he would be willing to marry her off. He agreed, and when the incident was made public, Hussain was immediately suspended from his job.
Police say that no action will be taken against Hussain because he didn’t actually commit a crime and go through with the ceremony.
In a letter to local community leaders, West Midlands Police said officers from its Public Protection Unit had investigated the secret TV recordings at the Jamatia Islamic Centre and at another mosque in the city.
“Those ceremonies were never conducted and having carefully scrutinized the footage and transcripts of the discussions, detectives from the force’s Public Protection Unit have established that no criminal offences were committed,” West Midlands Police said in a statement. “Detectives have also examined the records at the mosques to establish if other ceremonies have been conducted.
Again, no crimes have been identified.
Officers along with council officials and faith leaders are working closely with the Birmingham mosques mentioned in the programme to remind them of their responsibilities in relation to child protection issues.’’
Yesterday, a spokesman for the force said that two men, aged 27 and 41, were voluntarily interviewed by police in connection with the ITV programme but will face no further action.
The case of Sajid Zafar Hussain was also raised at a city council committee earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Councillor Brigid Jones, Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services, told the Mail: “Forced marriage, and marriage of underage girls, is an appalling crime, and my primary concern is that no young person in our city should live in fear of this.
‘‘I would urge anyone who has concerns to contact our referral and advice officers, or the police as appropriate.”
Leaders of the Jamatia Islamic Centre say that Hussain regrets what he did and that they strongly condemn his actions.
Many members of the mosque were split on their feelings regarding Hussain’s suspension.
Some felt that it was justified, and others thought that it wasn’t right because he didn’t technically do anything wrong