AN INDEPENDENT panel has been set up by a mosque in Peterborough
to examine claims that one of its imams offered to conduct a
ceremony of marriage for a girl aged 12 (Media, 14 September).
An investigation published in
The Sunday Times on 9 September stated that
Mohamed Kassamali, an imam at the Husaini Islamic Centre, told an
undercover reporter who was posing as a father that he would marry
a girl of 12 to a man in his 20s.
After the story appeared, the centre
issued a statement saying that no under-age marriages had been
conducted at the centre, nor would they be allowed. It also said:
"We find the practice of forced marriages to be abhorrent,
repre-hensible, and totally un-Islamic."
The centre announced that a panel is
to carry out internal investigations. Seven panellists will
"consider all aspects surrounding the case, and make their
recommendations to the management committee of the Husaini Islamic
Centre in the coming weeks." The panellists will include a former
senior police officer and specialist in child-protection; an
Islamic scholar and interfaith specialist from the Muslim Council
of Britain; an Arabic and Islamic specialist and educationalist; a
former BBC head of religion; a local social worker; and a local
Mr Kassamali has stepped down
temporarily while investigations are carried out.
After a voluntary interview with the
imam, Cambridgeshire police said that no action would be taken, as
there was no evidence of any criminal activity at the mosque.
A Peterborough city councillor, Nabil
Shabbir, told the Peterborough Telegraph that he welcomed
the investigation, and that the mosque had nothing to hide.
"Imam Kassamali is a respected member
of the community, and has done a lot of good work for the city. He
is held in high esteem by the public, so it is important there is a
proper investigation into this. Nothing illegal happened at the