Newcastle upon Tyne is a small city in the North-East of England which, in 2017, was acclaimed the best city in the UK in which to raise children (London was the worst). Imagine, then, the shock when the city again became national news on August 9 when a trial at the Crown Court ended in the conviction of 18 people for the sexual grooming of children. Juries “found the men guilty of a catalogue of nearly 100 offences – including rape, human trafficking, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drug supply – between 2011 and 2014.”
Of the 18, one was a white British woman. The rest were males of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Iraqi, Turkish and Iranian backgrounds, all with Muslim names.
Newcastle has a fairly small Muslim population, quite unlike those in other northern and Midlands towns such as Bradford, Blackburn, or Dewsbury. Based on the 2011 census, Bradford’s Muslim population reaches 24.7%, that of Blackburn 27.4%, and that of Dewsbury 34.4%. The highest in the country is only fractionally larger – the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, at 34.5%. The lowest out of 20 local authorities in England and Wales was the London Borough of Hackney with 14.1%. Newcastle’s Muslim population is much smaller, at 6.3%. The city boasts around 15 mosques, the vast majority of which are located in the less prosperous south-west sector. The Central Mosque (Masjid-at-Tawheed) is run by the Jamiat Ahle Hadith, a radical Pakistani religious movement and political party. The Islamic Diversity Centre is also connected to a fundamentalist organization based in London. Finally, only 2 terrorist offenders have ever come from Newcastle (see p. 932 in link).
Compared with many other places, Newcastle does not figure high on any list of radical Islamic activity, even if it has a moderate share of fundamentalists. Indeed, following the revelation of the grooming gang in August, a representative of the local Muslim community, city councillor Dipu Ahad, said to the national press that local Muslims were “absolutely disgusted” by their crimes and feared a possible backlash
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