An 81-year-old former Koran teacher who was convicted of a string of child sex offences has been jailed for 13 years.
Mohammed Haji Sadiq taught for 30 years at Cardiff’s Madina mosque and abused four girls as a form of punishment.
He was found guilty of eight sexual assaults on a child under 13 by touching, and six indecent assaults after a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
The court heard Sadiq, of Cyncoed, “took advantage of his position”.
He had denied the charges involving four girls aged between five and 11 and blamed “politics” in the mosque for the accusations.
But sentencing him, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC told Sadiq: “Children called you ‘uncle’ as a mark of respect. You are a man in my judgement of some cunning.”
He added: “Beneath the veneer there is a dark and deviant side.”
Sadiq, who was a part-time Imam, sexually assaulted two girls under the age of under 13 by touching, and indecently assaulted two other girls over a decade between 1996 and 2006 at the Woodville Road mosque.
He abused them if they made a mistake while reciting the Koran and would use a stick as a form of punishment in class, hitting people over the hand or hard on the back.
Some of his victims said they were afraid to attend the mosque because of his abuse.
One said she had attempted to take her own life because of the abuse.
In victim impact statements read to the court, others said they felt they could not tell anyone about the abuse because of the culture they grew up in.
The court heard one victim feared the consequences of speaking out following Sadiq’s conviction.
She said: “Due to my religion it was very difficult, almost impossible to tell anyone what had happened”.
She added: “In the Muslim religion we do not talk about personal matters”.
Another victim said she was told by elders that it was “not acceptable” in her culture to talk about what was happening at the mosque.
She said: “I remember the relief I felt when I told my mother, and she believed me and went to the police.
“In my family honour is very important, but my family have been very supportive”.
Sadiq has had no involvement in the mosque since 2006 when it burnt down and was re-sited elsewhere in the city.
He was cleared of one indecent assault after his trial last month.
In addition to his jail sentence, he was issued with a sexual harm prevention order and will have to register as a sex offender.
Victim of paedophile imam describes impact of assaults
The victim of an imam who has been found guilty of sexually and indecently assaulting young girls at a Cardiff mosque has described the impact the abuse has had on her life in a harrowing interview.
Mohammed Sadiq, 81, was convicted by a jury of six counts of indecent assault and eight counts of sexual assault on a child under 13, which he carried out at the Madina Mosque in Cardiff between 1996 and 2006.
He was found not guilty of one count of indecent assault, following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday.
In an interview one of his victims – who cannot be named due to legal reasons – describes how she has tried to block out all memories of her childhood.
She said: “It’s quite sad really. I don’t really like to look back at my childhood because for most of it I was quite down and had sort of negative feelings most of the time.
“There’s not really happy childhood memories, you know.”
Sadiq was involved with Madina Mosque, now based in Woodville Road, Cathays,between 1976 and 2006.
In the interview the victim describes how she would be called to read the Koran and Sadiq would touch her “inappropriately”.
“He would call out my name and I’d go sit down with him and sit and read the Koran. When it was happening he did it so discreetly that I suppose other children just didn’t really notice.
“It was so uncontrolled that they were just running around and playing – that’s what children want to do. They want to run around and play, so they were probably completely oblivious to what was happening around them.
“It sounds a bit sad but it started to feel quite normal eventually. Because it was every day I was just sort of going in and thinking: ‘Yeah, let’s just get this over with and it’s just another day’.
“I was living each day as it came.
“I wasn’t really close to anybody and it’s just hard to explain what’s happening.
“In our culture we don’t talk about these things really. It’s quite taboo.
“You don’t talk about sex. We’re not really encouraged to say anything because parents just expect their children to know right from wrong.”
The victim adds: “He would call out my name and call me to sit next to him behind his desk in his classroom. It would be to learn to read the Koran and I would be sitting there learning, reading and reading what I’d learnt.
“I don’t think he paid any attention to what I was reading.
“A few minutes in he would reach down under my clothes and just touch me inappropriately. And that would last for as long as he felt I suppose.
‘I’d lost any control’
“It’s hard to remember as it’s a while ago and looking back on it it felt like it lasted forever. It’s hard to put a timescale on it.
“It just feels like it was for such a long time. It felt like it wasn’t stopping.
“I think it was just sort of shock when it first happened. Oh no, what’s happening? And then after that it just became ‘Okay this is what he’s doing, and I don’t really have control over it’.
“So I just let it happen and let him do what he wants and when it’s finished it’s finished and I can get away.
“At that time I think I would just freeze and just let the worst happen and then that was it, I just didn’t know what to do about it.
“I’d lost any control. I didn’t feel in control of the situation. It was just really embarrassing.”
The victim went on to talk about the impact the sexual assaults have had on her life and how she “struggles” to cope with what’s happened.
“I was a child, I was eight years old. I didn’t know anything that was going on within the mosque, any disputes or anything that’s happening.
“I was just being sent to mosque by my parents and that was it really. I just went do what I was told to do.
I’ve been struggling to come to terms with it. I’ve been trying not to think about it too much but it has been constantly on my mind since I’ve opened up and spoken about it.
“I’ve constantly thought ‘What if they don’t believe me?’. And that’s the worst thing to feel because it’s such a sensitive subject.
“I wouldn’t be out here saying all this, talking about this, putting myself through all of this, if it was all lies.”
And the victim is now offering her own advice to other women who may be experiencing similar abuse.
She said: “I think it’s important to speak out – especially for women who need to feel empowered, to know that they can talk about it and that there is so much help out there.
“There are so many people you can talk to, even if you feel like you’re on your own and you don’t know who to talk to – there will be somebody.
“And once you’ve spoken up – it just feels so much easier.”