Friday, May 27, 2005

Islamic teacher jailed for assault on a nine-year-old child

Cheryl Smith:

A TEACHER at a Burton mosque has been jailed for four months for assaulting a nine-year-old child — his second conviction for attacking a child in his care.

Religious instructor Mohammed Ashraf, of Horninglow Road, was sentenced at Burton Magistrates Court yesterday after previously admitting hitting the boy, who had refused to read from the Koran, with a piece of wood.

The 57-year-old had also been convicted of assault in 2001, but given a conditional discharge on appeal, after he twice struck a seven-year-old pupil across the back with a metal rod for being disruptive.

Mark Croft, defending, said the defendant, a religious teacher at Parker Street Mosque, had been chastising the children for their disruptive behaviour.

Ashraf hit the youngster in January last year with a piece of wood known as a 'Rael' — a cross frame used to hold the Koran.

The court was told the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered bruising to the back of his head, forearm, shoulder and tenderness behind his right ear.

A statement from the boy, read in court, also said that Ashraf had made him crouch in a 'chicken' position for up to an hour for bad behaviour.

Mr Croft said Ashraf did not believe he had been excessive in his punishments and had permission from the mosque and parents to moderately chastise the children for misbehaving.

He said: "We might find moderate chatisement something rather strange, but the defendant is adamant that in his culture and in the rules of the mosque, moderate chastisement is allowed.

"He was only seeking to correct the boy and bring him back to class so he could get him to read from the Koran.

"He held out the wood to tap him on the head and the boy unfortunately jumped, causing more damage than intended."

Ashraf had initially denied a charge of assault, but later admitted the charge on May 4. The case was adjourned until yesterday for a pre-sentence report.

Presiding magistrate Robert White said Ashraf had left the bench no choice but to impose a custodial sentence after he abused his position of trust and hurt a vulnerable child.

He said: "You were in a position of authority. You also have a previous conviction for a similar offence, which has led us to conclude you have a tendency to commit this kind of crime."

I wonder if there will be any protests by Muslims claiming that their religious freedoms are being interfered with by the courts?


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