- 1,400 girls were abused by Pakistani gangs in Rotherham for 16 years
- Pakistani community workers said abuse scandal was 'discussed'
- She said religious leaders were 'contacted by agencies about the abuses'
- But they 'discussed it at the mosque' rather than going to the police
- Comes as council officers face calls to step down over the report
Muslim leaders were aware of the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham but talked in Mosques rather than going to police, a community worker has claimed.
The abuse of at least 1,400 girls at the hands of Pakistani gangs in the South Yorkshire town for 16 years was shrouded in secrecy.
But according to the head of the United Multicultural Centre, the scandal was widely discussed within the Asian community.
Scandal: A Pakistani community worker claims Muslim leaders were aware of the abuse scandal in Rotherham
Parveen Qureshi told BBC Sheffield: 'The Asian community leaders, they knew about it, it was discussed at the mosque and other places.
'The leaders who agencies had contacted to discuss issues, they knew about this.
'Community leaders were aware of what was happening and they were trying to solve that problem for forever - not just on this occasion but on many occasions people were talking to the community's leaders.
She added: 'It was not started over night, it was going on for a long time'.
The shocking revelation comes amid calls for senior council workers in charge between 1997 and 2013 to resign from their current posts both at Rotherham and elsewhere.
The shameless buck-passing between council chiefs continued today even as detectives were urged to finally hunt down the child rapists who they allowed to escape justice for 16 years.
Among the officials shrugging off responsibility was police and crime commissioner Shaun Wright, who stubbornly defied demands for his resignation from the Home Secretary.
Report: Professor Jay's report revealed 1,400 girls had been abused by mainly Pakistani gangs for 16 years
Under pressure: Shaun Wright (left) and Joyce Thacker (right) are facing calls to step down over the scandal
Even his deputy Tracey Cheetham has now resigned - and urged her boss to do the same.
Ms Cheetham said she said she felt 'unable to continue' in the role and added: 'It is vital for people to have confidence in the office of police and crime commissioner and, with this in mind, I believe it would have been the right thing for Shaun Wright to resign.'
It came as Education Secretary Nicky Morgan also announced that Ofsted would carry out an early inspection of child protection services in Rotherham.
Prime Minister David Cameron is among those calling for Mr Wright to quit, describing the report into 16 years of widespread child abuse in the Yorkshire town as 'deeply shocking'.
He said: 'I think the Home Secretary [Theresa May] was right yesterday to say, having looked at the report, the fact that the police commissioner was at the time head of children's services, that the right decision would be to resign and take full responsibility for what happened.'
And shockingly, the woman in charge of Rotherham's children's services for five years of the child sex abuse scandal tried to downplay the true scale of the offences.
Ms Qureshi later appeared to backtrack on her statement, claiming she intended to say the report revealed senior council workers evidently knew about the scandal.