Officials at the Husaini Islamic Centre in Peterborough (pictured) made no comment on Sunday (9 September) on allegations in the Sunday Times newspaper which claimed an undercover reporter had allegedly been told it was possible to carry out a ceremony to “marry” a 12-year-old girl.
The Sunday Times reported allegations that Mohammed Kassamali, imam at the Husaini Islamic Centre mosque, in Burton Street, told an undercover reporter that he could carry out the ceremony.
The Peterborough Telegraph contacted the mosque and was told the imam would call back, but at the time of writing we had not been able to speak to the iman concerned.
A reporter also emailed the centre and visited the centre. When the reporter visited the mosque this afternoon it appeared closed but a man came to the gate and politely said the imam was unavailable for comment, please try tomorrow.
The Sunday Times reported that when Mr Kassamali was approached by that paper this week and asked to explain he is reported as saying he would have consulted legal experts before carrying out a wedding.
He is reported as saying: “I said I will find out first whether it is allowed or not.
“I said if it is allowed according to the law here then I will. I said if it is by coercion it is not allowed… In Islamic sharia it [the marriage] is allowed.”
It was also pointed out that Islamic marriages are not recognised under British law and a civil ceremony is normally required afterwards.
It is not illegal for imams to arrange wedding ceremonies for under 16s but if the husband is over 16 he could be prosecuted for rape if any such marriage were consummated.
The undercover report also makes allegations against a retired imam based in London.
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “I think there are some very serious questions raised by the undercover operations by the Sunday Times. I’m quite disappointed that it should feature a mosque in Peterborough.
“I think this is definitely a matter for the Muslim community to investigate but I also feel Cambridgeshire constabulary should satisfy itself that no criminal activity has taken place.
“I think the whole community will be shocked by some of the allegations and I think that mosque has a responsibility to ask questions of itself.”
Peterborough City councillor Nazim Khan is a member of a different mosque but said: “I am quite surprised to hear of these allegations. I don’t suppose it is a view that the majority of the community share.”
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