Ilford’s Muslims hit out at Jack Straw’s ‘easy meat’ remarks

A MUSLIM leader has hit out at what he says are divisive comments made by former Home Secretary Jack Straw, after he suggested Pakistani men are grooming white girls for sexual abuse.

Calling the comments made in an interview with BBC2’s Newsnight “damaging to community cohesion,” Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the Ilford Muslim Community Centre, Eton Road, Ilford, said he will be at the forefront of a new UK Pakistan Unity Forum set up on Sunday following the remarks.

Mr Straw, Labour MP for Blackburn, Lancashire, said on Friday that Pakistani men in Britain see white girls as “easy meat” and labelled it as a “specific problem” in the Pakistani community.

His remarks followed the conviction of two Asian men for rapes and sexual assaults on vulnerable young girls.

The men were ringleaders of a gang who befriended girls as young as 12 in the Derby area.

Police said the girls were targeted at random.

On Sunday, more than 40 Muslim leaders met at Ilford Muslim Community Centre to unanimously condemn Mr Straw’s comments.

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Mr Chaudhry, who was at the meeting, told the Recorder: “These comments are not constructive.

“They only divide communities at a time when we’re trying to build bridges.

“When you look around, a lot of crimes are committed by people. But you don’t tag them with their religion.

“You can’t level them against a community or race.”

The UK Pakistan Unity Forum was established during Sunday’s meeting.

It will look at building bridges between communities as well as tackling stereotypes.

Mr Chaudhry, who is chairman of the League of British Muslims, said: “We should be working towards community cohesion not dividing and labelling people.”

Pakistan-born Labour Cllr Muhammed Javed said the claims made by Mr Straw were “totally wrong”.

He said: “Not all Pakistanis or of that ilk or criminally minded. His words were ill-advised.”