- Two imams were prepared to officiate at wedding of underage girl to a man in his 20s
- Cleric allegedly told undercover reporter: ‘Under Sharia there is no problem’
A Muslim cleric at the centre of an illegal marriage scandal has stepped down after he allegedly offered to marry a 12-year-old girl to a man in his 20s.
Imam Mohamed Kassamali is said to have told an undercover reporter posing as a father that he could carry out a ceremony for his school-aged daughter.
He allegedly told the Sunday Times journalist: ‘If it (the marriage) was not possible, I would have told you straight away… I would love the girl to go to her husband’s houses (sic) as soon as possible, the younger the better.
‘Under Sharia (Islamic law) there is no problem. It is said she should see her first sign of puberty at the house of her husband.
‘The problem is that we cannot explain such things (the marriage) if the girl went tomorrow (to the authorities).
‘The other thing is the underage thing and if tomorrow the girl is, let’s say coerced or forced into this, and she goes and reports it to the police then she will put all of us into the problems.’
The imam, who worked at the Husaini Islamic Centre in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, apparently urged the father to encourage the newlyweds to ‘delay the togetherness’ – meaning they should postpone having sex.
A statement released by the Islamic Centre read: ‘The management and members of Peterborough’s Husaini Islamic Centre do not recognise the alleged remarks of Imam Mohamed Kassamali, who is reported to have discussed the possibility of underage marriage in Britain with The Sunday Times.
‘In line with our practice, we are in the process of carrying out a full independent inquiry on this matter.
‘The imam has temporarily stepped aside by mutual consent with the centre while an investigation takes place.
‘A legal, British civil marriage certificate is a prerequisite for any Islamic (Nikah) officially conducted at the Husaini Islamic Centre.
‘We respect the law of the land and since the establishment of the Husaini Islamic Centre, no under legal age marriages have been conducted at the centre, nor will it be allowed.
‘We find the practice of forced marriages to be abhorrent, reprehensible and totally un-Islamic and we support the Forced Marriage Unit, established by the Government, in its attempts to tackle this issue.’
A second imam, retired Abdul Haque, who still officiates at weddings at Shoreditch mosque, East London, reportedly agreed to carry out the ceremony after evening prayers on a Wednesday.
He allegedly told the reporter: ‘Tell people it is an engagement but it will be a marriage.
‘In Islam, once the girl reaches puberty the father has the right, the parents have the right, but under the laws of this country if the girl complains and says her marriage has been arranged and she wasn’t of marriageable age, then the person who performed the marriage will be jailed as well as the mother and father.’
He explained how the Prophet Muhammad had married a seven-year-old girl before adding: ‘We are his followers, and that is what you have to explain (to your daughter).’
UK law lets imams marry consenting under-16s provided they do not have sex until the age of 16.
The Home Office has now confirmed that such ceremonies will be examined in the Government’s forthcoming Bill to outlaw forced marriages.
More than 1,000 of the 8,000 forced marriages of Britons each year are believed to involve girls of 15 or under, with one case last year allegedly involving a girl of five.
After being confronted, Kassamali said he would not have performed the marriage without the girl’s consent and would have sought legal advice. Haque declined to comment.
The Home Office said: ‘Child marriage is totally unacceptable and illegal. Perceived cultural sensitivities and political correctness cannot and will not get in the way of preventing and uncovering such abuse.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2200980/Imam-Mohamed-Kassamali-steps-caught-agreeing-marry-girl-12.html#ixzz265g1KAuN