Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Muslim religious leader jailed for sex attack on girl
A MUSLIM religious leader has been jailed after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young girl.
Members of Portsmouth's Muslim community have spoken of their shock after Hafiz Rahman, a former Imam of the Southsea mosque, was convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Rahman, 67, molested the teenager in Portsmouth while he was supposed to be teaching her about the Qur'an.
A jury of eight men and six women took less than two hours to find him guilty sexual activity with a child.
Jailing him for a year, Judge Roger Hetherington said: 'Given your position in the Muslim community and the respect with which you were accorded as a result by the family that you were visiting, this was as bad a case of breach of trust as it is possible to imagine.'
Muhammed Badruz Zaman, who helped found the Jami Mosque in Victoria Road North, Southsea, said: 'For someone like him to do that it is unbelievable. He was well known and respected.
'It's sad. It will shock every Muslim to hear what has happened.'
Rahman, of Northern Road, North End, is a Hafiz – a term for someone who has memorised the entire Qur'an.
After stepping down as Imam he was being paid by families across Portsmouth to teach their children.
On December 27 last year he went to the 15-year-old's home and molested her after they were left alone.
Judge Hetherington said the attack would have carried on if the girl's father had not unexpectedly come home.
The judge said: 'The parents of the child came to retain your services because they understood that you were a respected and indeed revered member of the community who had until recently been an Imam to the mosque.
'On the jury's verdict and on abundant evidence, for whatever reason, you took advantage of that situation for your own sexual gratification.
'It must have been a very frightening experience for that girl.'
Stephen Smyth, defending, said Rahman had lost his standing as a respected member of the community.
'This means it will be over for him and he will be deported,' he said. 'Everything goes and he has to go back to a Muslim country convicted of what he is convicted of, which will be very seriously regarded. He has nothing to look forward to in his life.'
Judge Hetherington told Rahman: 'I accept that for all your life apart from this incident you have behaved properly and you may well have done many good things to other people during your life. Nevertheless this was a terrible lapse on your part.'