Suleman Maknojioa was spared jail after court heard his family relied on him
He was this week found guilty of abusing 11-year-old over nine-month period
Protests against the ruling were led by the Muslim Women’s Network
‘We need to be first to speak out,’ says network’s chairman Shaista Gohir
‘Unduly lenient’: Suleman Maknojioa was given a 40-week suspended sentence after his defence argued that his wife couldn’t speak English
The suspended sentence handed to a Koran teacher who sexually abused an 11-year-old girl will be reviewed by the Attorney General after protests from Muslim women’s groups.
Suleman Maknojioa from Blackburn was given a 40-week suspended sentence for abusing the girl, after his defence argued that his wife couldn’t speak English and the household was dependent on him.
But that decision will now be looked at again after dozens of people complained to the Attorney General’s office. The Crown Prosecution Service could then send the case to the court of appeal to be reconsidered.
The abuse took place over a nine-month period when Maknojioa, a respected Islamic scholar, was giving the victim and her two brothers Koran lessons at their home three times a week.
Preston Crown Court heard that Maknojia repeatedly rubbed the girl’s legs and reached under her headscarf to touch her chest as she recited the holy book.
On the day he was arrested he was due to teach 30 children at a mosque near his home in Blackburn. He was subsequently found guilty of five counts of sexually touching a child and sentenced to 20 weeks jail.
But a judge chose to suspend the sentence for two years after the court heard his family were dependent on him and he is ill with kidney problems.
After the sentence was handed down on Monday friend of the victim’s family immediately dubbed is a ‘total disgrace’.
‘What type of message does this send out to paedophiles? He should be behind bars for this type of abuse. We are all horrified,’ said the friend, who asked not to be named.
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Now a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office has said that following an outpouring of complaints about Maknojia’s sentence officials would look again at the decision.
‘We received around 50 requests to review the sentence of Suleman Maknojioa,’ the spokesman said.
‘The CPS will look at the case and sentencing remarks of the judge and decide if it should be referred to the court of appeal.’
Suleman Makhojioa outside Preston Crown Court where he was given a 40 week custodial sentence suspended for two years
A court heard that Maknojia repeatedly rubbed the girl’s legs and reached under her headscarf to touch her chest as she recited the Koran
Pervert: Preston Crown Court heard that Maknojia over a nine-month period repeatedly rubbed an 11-year-old girl’s legs and reached under her headscarf to touch her chest as he taught her and her brothers the Koran
The protests were spearheaded by the Muslim Women’s Network UK who wrote a letter to the Attorney General expressing their outrage at the decision and calling for it to be reviewed.
Shaista Gohir, chairman of the network, said she welcomed the decision.
She said: ‘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.
‘What we often find what happens is that there is a tendency to blame the victim. This was the case in Blackburn and his lenient sentence fed into that.
‘There needs to be stiffer sentences in cases of sexual abuse to send out a message that abuse will not be tolerated.
‘Often the community can be part of the problem because we prioritise the honour of the community over the welfare of the victim.
‘We need to be the first to speak out.’