British mosque leaders prepared to marry 12-year-old girl
Home Office will examine case in order to outlaw forced marriages
An investigation has found that some of the Muslim clerics residing in the United Kingdom are willing to perform arranged marriages involving girls as young as 12 years of age. Two imams have reportedly confessed that they would be prepared to officiate at the wedding of an underage girl to a man in his twenties - in spite of concerns that the two would later have sexual intercourse.
These shocking revelations have led the Home Office to confirm that such ceremonies will be examined in the Government's forthcoming Bill to outlaw forced marriages.
It has been estimated that more than 1,000 of the 8,000 forced marriages of Britons each year are believed to involve girls of 15 or younger. One case last year allegedly involved a girl of five.
The clerics were approached by man, who posed as the father of a 12-year-old, who wanted her to marry to prevent her being tempted into a "decadent Western lifestyle."
Imam Mohammed Kassamali, of the Husaini Islamic Center in Peterborough, stressed the need for secrecy with such a ceremony.
"If it (the marriage) was not possible, I would have told you straight away... I would love the girl to go to her husband's houses (sic) as soon as possible, the younger the better," he allegedly said.
"Under sharia (Islamic law) there is no problem. It is said she should see her first sign of puberty at the house of her husband.
"The problem is that we cannot explain such things (the marriage) if the girl went tomorrow (to the authorities).
"The other thing is the underage thing and if tomorrow the girl is, let's say coerced or forced into this, and she goes and reports it to the police then she will put all of us into the problems."
He told the couple to "delay the togetherness," meaning postpone having sexual intercourse.
"Tell people it is an engagement but it will be a marriage," Abdul Haque, a retired imam who still officiates at weddings at Shoreditch mosque, East London. He reportedly agreed to carry out the ceremony after evening prayers.
"In Islam, once the girl reaches puberty the father has the right, the parents have the right, but under the laws of this country if the girl complains and says her marriage has been arranged and she wasn't of marriageable age, then the person who performed the marriage will be jailed as well as the mother and father."
Haque explained how the Prophet Muhammad had married a seven-year-old girl before adding: "We are his followers, and that is what you have to explain (to your daughter)."
It is not illegal for clerics to perform Islamic marriages, even when one or both of those marrying are under 16 - but such marriages are not recognized in British law, so civil formalities can take place only if both are over 16.
Islamic law allows a couple to have sex after marriage but, as the legal age of consent is 16, a husband can be prosecuted for rape if he has sex with an underage girl.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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