An Imam who sexually abused primary school children during Quran lessons at a mosque has been jailed.
Mohammed Haji Saddique, 81, sexually touched the girls in front of his class and slapped students repeatedly if they made mistakes during lessons.
Cardiff Crown Court heard how Saddique had metal and wooden sticks, which he used to poke the children as they studied.
Saddique of Cyncoed, Cardiff, was born in Hong Kong and moved to Pakistan before coming to the UK in 1967.
He was a member of the Madina Mosque and was involved in running it, including as a treasurer and teaching Quran studies to primary school pupils.
Classes took place four times per week after school and the court heard how pupils referred to the imam as ‘Uncle Saddique’ as a mark of respect.
Saddique would touch the girls under their traditional loose-fitting clothing during his lessons, and rub them against his groin and leg.
Sentencing him to 13 years in prison, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: ‘You would attempt to maintain discipline and concentration by tapping or slapping the child sitting next to you who didn’t read correctly.
‘Every time one of these small children made a mistake you would slap them until they got it right and slap them for every mistake they made.’
Police first launched an investigation in 2006 following complaints by two girls, but Saddique denied any wrongdoing.
The investigation was restarted in 2016 after two other girls came forward.
In victim impact statements read to the court, the girls, now in their 20s, spoke of the lasting impact of Saddique’s offending.
Speaking of one, Judge Hopkins said: ‘It has put her off religion, she deliberately doesn’t own a Quran.
‘[For her] the ethos of going to the mosque at any time is that when you are there, God is protecting you.
‘Her idea was shattered because you abused her when she was reading from the holy book.’
Saddique was found him guilty of 14 offences – six indecent assaults and eight sexual assaults – that took place between 1996 and 2006
Source: Metro UK