The first speaker at the recent Together Against Grooming conference in Bradford almost derailed the event through her bias and political partisanship.
The conference topic was grooming gangs and child sexual exploitation. The event was run by and targeted at the Asian community, had over 400 attending, and was important because it was – according to the organisers – the UK’s first major Asian conference on grooming gangs and CSE.
The conference was entitled courageously “Feel the fear…and do it anyway”. I hoped it was a sign that the Islamic community is at last taking ownership of the appalling Muslim grooming gang phenomenon.
The Catholic Church had to be forced by outside secular authorities to cease its denial and acknowledge its paedophile priest scandal.
The BBC, having covered up years of allegations about Jimmy Savile’s paedophile activities on its premises, was forced to acknowledge them only after his death defused his celebrity power over sycophantic BBC senior staff, and freed his accusers from fear of sanction.
My question was: would the Muslim community do better than the church and the state broadcaster? Would its leaders face up to the paedophile gangs within their ranks voluntarily, without being compelled by outsider intervention? Conference publicity indicated that they might.
However the non-Asian opening speaker dashed all hopes. She was English academic Dr Ella Cockbain from University College London.
According to the conference blurb Dr Cockbain is an expert on serious and organised crime including sexual exploitation. She is also an independent expert reviewer for the Home Office and “the most qualified person in the country to talk about what is true and what is myth when it comes to the whole issue of ‘grooming gangs’”.
But instead of “dispelling the myths and providing the hard facts” as we were promised, Dr Cockbain launched an immediate attack on UKIP and the “far right” including Tommy Robinson. It was a rant and red-herring worthy of Hope Not Hate, and to ram home her point she even displayed a picture of UKIP rosettes on the big screen.
It was the old Leftist conjuring trick. Cockbain deflected attention from the primary issue of the Muslim grooming gangs – about which she was consistently insipid and circumspect – onto the secondary issue of those who, in view of local authorities’ culpable failure, want to expose and stop them.
It also was fear-mongering patronisingly designed by Cockburn to put the Muslim community back into the victim box from which they were falteringly trying to venture.
It, too, was the bog-standard smokescreen with which political and media virtue-signallers invariably blanket and hide the grooming gang issue.
This dangerous leftist drivel was seriously inappropriate for an academic and researcher who should instead pursue truth, clarify facts and follow evidence. What was worse, Cockburn scuttled away from the platform before we had a chance to challenge her.
I was subsequently joined at the conference by Stephen Place, chairman of UKIP Bradford branch. He was in time to hear Salma Yaqoob, former leader of George Galloway’s Respect Party, follow Dr Cockbain’s lead and lay into UKIP. When I challenged her from the floor, Ms Yaqoob promoted her usual line that Muslims are the eternal powerless victims, to some applause from the audience.
Ajmal Masroor – who I first crossed political swords with when he was a LibDem candidate in Newham, east London, where I live – gave a sanitised talk about Islamic teaching that failed to address the obvious issues that trouble many, such as the age of Muhammad’s child bride Aisha.
Others were more helpful. There were two heart-wrenching testimonies, one by the English mother of a grooming victim and the other by an Asian survivor of childhood domestic sexual abuse. Good discussion panels, masterful organisation and an interesting presentation by the Truth Project of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse completed an – in the end – instructive day.
But despite the conference organisers’ best efforts, we were no closer to the Muslim community acknowledging its grooming gang scandal.
The moral of the story? Beware patronising English ‘experts’ with PC agendas speaking at well-intentioned Muslim conferences. They are likely to dump the truth, divert the debate and wreck the real usefulness of the event.
This article was first published by Kipper Central on 14th April