Lord Ahmed calls on mosques 'to speak' about sex abuse
Labour peer Lord Ahmed has called on mosque leaders in South Yorkshire to speak about the issues surrounding sex exploitation.
His comments follow a Times newspaper report of widespread abuse of girls by Asian men in the county.
It prompted MPs to order South Yorkshire Police's chief constable to answer the claims in Parliament.
Lord Ahmed said: "It's important that the community, rather than going silent... talk about it."
An investigation by The Times said a confidential 2010 report by the Police Intelligence Bureau detailed "a significant problem with networks of Asian males exploiting young white females, particularly in Rotherham and Sheffield".
'We need to talk'
Lord Ahmed said: "This was a new phenomenon within the Asian community.
"I've said mosque leaders need to speak about it. There are issues in relation to morality which are not discussed at the mosque.
"It's important that the community, rather than going silent with shock and with a kind of attitude that this did not exist within our communities, we need to talk about it and we need to nip it in the bud wherever this problem is."
Muhbeen Hussain, founder of Rotherham Muslim Youth group, said all communities should "stand against" the exploitation.
"We need Muslim leaders to go out there and condemn this and make it clear it's wrong.
"We should use education, community cohesion and work on other means to try and bring people with understanding within the community."
Mohammed Ali, chairman of the Pakistan and Muslim Centre in Sheffield, said: "The situation needs to be tackled. We can't hide behind it and say it will go away, that's not acceptable in any way shape or form.
"We've got the South Yorkshire mosques together and we've discussed individually and privately with the imams and with the committee members."
Lord Ahmed said he did not know the reason why Asian men were exploiting young girls.
"Nobody knows the reason but obviously there are young boys who are brought up in this country. Maybe because they have broken families themselves. Maybe because their fathers have worked 18-19 hour days and they've been out of the house and nobody to control or look after them," he said.
In May, nine men from Rochdale and Oldham were jailed after being found guilty of exploiting girls as young as 13 at two takeaway restaurants.