ISIS and Grooming gangs: Don’t blame Islam

The UK is in the grip of an appalling scandal involving tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of vast-majority white girls – teen girls and child girls – abused by gangs of Pakistani Muslim men. The abuse is nationwide through the Midlands to the North, almost always in Labour controlled areas, and often involving criminal conspiracy to cover it up by corrupt and colluding police officers, council workers, care system workers, and elected councillors.

In rare cases parts of the establishment, rather than criminally conspiring – and here I name the Guardian newspaper – simply colluded in the abuse by refusing to comment on the race and religion of the perpetrators and victims. They would seize on the small, but significant number of P-M victims too or the occasional white male friend who joined the P-M gang and say “Look! See! It’s not about race or religious hate!’

But for these men it was, and by refusing to acknowledge that we turn away from a pattern of abuse and abusers that can help us catch more offenders. You might as well say that the Catholic priest scandal had nothing to do with the Catholic community because most child rapists are not Catholic priests. The latter is true but it is also irrelevant.

Equally, #ISIS is burying children alive, forcing other children to become soldier killers, raping and enslaving Yazidi women and children, and cutting the heads off journalists, including pro-Arab world journalists like Steven Sotloff. And all of this is done in the name of Islam.

It comes after many other horrors done in the same name. Our “ally” Saudi Arabia just beheaded 19 men and flogs women for driving, for example. 

Yet when I go on Twitter and both insist on addressing the crucial fact that the organized gang-rape gangs of Labour towns are Pakistani Muslim males, and at the same time defend Islam, the faith, and the vastly peaceable and law-abiding Muslim majority, people often accuse me of being inconsistent or not being plain-spoken enough. ‘The Religion of Peace’ said sarcastically is the contemptuous thing many tweeters say. Then they insist that #SCIS (So-Called Islamic State) are “ordinary Muslims” because the Quran says (cite controversial verse that read out of context looks hate-mongering). “Say what you like, Christianity doesn’t do that.” “Judaism doesn’t do that.” 

But the fact is, this is not true. Both our faiths DID do that. ALL major faiths have self-identifying adherents who justify torture and death in the name of their religion. I am a Catholic. In the 1400s-1600s, my church’s hierarchy was a morass of vile sin as well as housing saints and good people beyond telling. We tortured Jews in the Inquisition. We tied Protestants to the stake and burned them alive as they did to us. The tortures and deaths we meted out were as bad or worse as anything ISIS is doing now, in the name of Allah (SWT) the Compassionate, the Merciful – only we meted them out in the name of Christ Jesus, who told us “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

This Catholicism was not a different faith to the one practiced by Pope Francis or Pope St. John Paul II. It was the same faith, interpreted badly to the point of being totally the opposite to what God intended, to enable the work of the devil. It is #SCIS and rape gangs twisted view of Islam that has led them to see other faiths and races as less than themselves; to rape women and children, when the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said “Women and men are like the teeth of a comb” and orders that men be kind to women, and have sex only with their wives. All the negative traits ascribed to Islam can be found to exactly the same degree in the Holy Bible. 

And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. Surah 4:3

Now, you can say this allows polygamy if you like. But a liberal interpretation of the verse would be that it forbids polygamy since no man can do justice to two wives at once. Compare to Judeo-Xtn Deuteronomy, 21:15-16

If a man has two wives-one beloved and the other despised-and they bear him sons, the beloved one and the despised one, and the firstborn son is from the despised one. Then it will be, on the day he [the husband] bequeaths his property to his sons, that he will not be able to give the son of the beloved [wife] birthright precedence over the son of the despised [wife]-the [real] firstborn son.

Again, this shows only the protection, or advancement, of human rights from the status quo at the time. The Islamophobes like to quote Quran verses about beating wives, or stoning to death, or attacking Jews. But let us compare: as #SCIS buries children alive, let me quote the Holy Bible, 1 Samuel 15:3

“Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

Indeed, read the whole of 1 Samuel 15 if you want to see why I could never be a born-again Christian, who takes each verse in the Bible literally. It is impossible to take the Bible literally as it contradicts itself, often. 1 Samuel 15 is not compatible with a loving God, who does not desire the slaughter of infants, and who punishes Saul because he did not destroy everything but left a few cattle alive. 

And as to the verses regularly trotted out as to the inferior status of women in Islam, there are just as many in my Catholic Bible. Yet although I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God it does not mean that I need regard it all as literally true. One has to do a lot of dancing around to make 1:Samuel 15 fit with the vision of a loving God. This blog does a nice job of that

(in sum, he argues that the human author mistakenly makes the point ‘man must obey God’ by using a wrong story where Amalek is not not real, historical people, but  symbol of whatever might stand in the way of the people of God.)

To take one small example of how interpretation of holy texts is needed to get to the truth: St. John Paul II revolutionized millennia of Catholic teaching on the role of wives in marriage “Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord” – like in the Quran, a verse than puts women beneath men – not by overturning Catholic teaching (which can never happen) but by adding to the context so that the meaning is completely reversed. This verse can only be understood, he said, in light of the preceding one “Be subject to another out of reverence for Christ.” And thus, taught the Holy Father to the whole Church from the Throne of Peter (technical language meaning this is binding) YES, a wife must submit to her husband but a husband must also submit to his wife. And so they are equal.

So – like the Saint, Pope John Paul II, I honour Islam, and the Quran, and the Hadiths. I see all the references to stoning to death, offering daughters for rape, and the like, within my own Bible. It is understanding and context, and interpretation, that takes us to a place where we can see more clearly what God intended for us. 


On marriage:

Be subject to one another, out of reverence for Christ – Ephesians 5:21

They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them. – Quran 2:187


On the equal creation of men and women


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27


“O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from this pair scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and reverence the wombs (that bore you); for Allah ever watches over you.” – Quran 4:1


And on the true teaching of Islam on women, against which all other verses must be interpreted:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. – Quran 2:228


Finally, if #SCIS and the rape gangs truly followed Islam – and if the Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish killers of centuries past had truly followed our own faiths, we would have been bound by this one, overarching truth, repeated throughout every major faith’s scriptures:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; – Lamentations 3:22

In the name of Allah, the entirely merciful, the especially merciful. – Quran 1:1


Amen and Ameen, and so God have mercy on us all.  





  1. Anonymous · September 10, 2014

    I’m sorry, but this is just cherry picking and careful interpretation which takes us away from what the words actually say. There are many decent minded and respectable followers of religion but these tend to be the ones who don’t follow the books of religion thoroughly. If something requires interpretation, it isn’t clear and then people will inevitably end up with the ‘wrong interpretation’ and we’ll all end up with ISIS etc on a more regular basis. Let’s see the problem for what it is – religion of each and every kind. The further people move away from it, the better it gets.

    • ǝsɐɥɔ ןǝıɹqɐƃ · September 10, 2014

      Correct. It’s funny how so many muslims complain that critics of Islam quote the qur’an out of context, and yet they do it just as much!

  2. Solomon · September 10, 2014

    Muhammad order his men to rape and enslave married women.
    Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old.
    Muhammad killed and ordered the killing and beheading of hundreds of people.

    Jesus was celibate.
    Jesus killed no one and stopped his followers from fighting even when he was put to death.

    By all means criticise medieval Catholic politicians, but don’t make a false equivalence between the examples of Jesus and Muhammad to make yourself feel better.

    For and understanding of the sexual enslavement of non Muslims in Rotherham, Nigerian school girls and Yazidis, look to Quran 4:24 and its clear context as provided by Ibn Kathir below:

    “We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed

    (Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess). Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women.”

    ‘Forbidding Women Already Married, Except for Female Slaves’

    • louisemensch · September 10, 2014

      Ephesians 6:5; Luke 22:36, Luke 22:38.

      • Solomon · September 11, 2014

        Luke 22:50-51

        ” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
        But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”

        You’ve quoted from a chapter where Jesus heals a man and stops his disciples from being violent. By contrast, Muhammad’s disciples tell him they don’t want to violate other men’s wives and then he has a verse “revealed” so the women can be enslaved and violated.

        You also have failed to address the fact that Muhammad personally sexually abused and enslaved people and Jesus did not.

    • Faisal · September 11, 2014

      The hadith are all reported sayings by the prophet collected 250+ years after the prophet and disseminated a further 400 years later.

      All the vile allegations about him, even in the so called ‘authentic’ hadith, have little exegetical value as they are essentially chinese whispers collected by a few witnesses out of 140,000+ who lived during his time by a people 250 years later. In fact, there are hadith that tell of Muhammad ordering the burning of accounts of his life during his lifetime because the only source of reference for Islam he wanted was the Quran. And as the penny has dropped for Louise in her research, when full context is applied, the Quran is unproblematic, to me as a liberal Muslim, to British and social democratic values.

      • Faisal · September 11, 2014

        Further, stuff about marriage to a 6 year old etc have long been debunked by credible scholars, both Muslim and non.

      • louisemensch · September 11, 2014

        To be fair the penny had never NOT dropped for me. I am very clear we must not disguise the nature of the rape gangs’ members. *At the same time* we must not demonize Islam or Muslims in general. These two positions are usually called contradictory, esp on Twitter. They aren’t and this is my considered attempt to say why not.

      • ǝsɐɥɔ ןǝıɹqɐƃ · September 11, 2014

        “stuff about marriage to a 6 year old etc have long been debunked by credible scholars, both Muslim and non.”

        Oh really, Faisal? Give me five reliable, peer-reviewed resources demonstrating this, please.

      • Faisal · September 13, 2014

        @ ǝsɐɥɔ ןǝıɹqɐƃ , Here are the facts surrounding Aisha that cast doubt on the certainty of her age of marriage and put her anywhere between 14-21+ at the time of marriage.

        And this recent Masters paper by Jennifer Sands for good measure about the veil for anyone interested.

        “During the days of the Prophet Muhammad, dress was of little concern and there were few restrictions about wearing certain items of clothing.”

      • Faisal · September 14, 2014

        Link added.

        And this recent Masters paper by Jennifer Sands for good measure about the veil for anyone interested.

        “During the days of the Prophet Muhammad, dress was of little concern and there were few restrictions about wearing certain items of clothing.”

  3. Solomon · September 10, 2014

    Why do people think if they prove ‘Christianity’ is “bad” too that it absolves Islam of its immorality? Christianity could be the most horrific ideology on the face of the earth and it would not erase from historical fact that Muhammad taught his followers they can make sex slaves out of female prisoners of war.

    Islam should be judged on the example of Muhammad and his teachings.

  4. nigelpwsmith · September 11, 2014

    It’s not about what the holy books say, it’s about how they are perceived for their acts in the name of their religion. It’s a very simplistic view.

    The vast majority are becoming more secular everyday. They look at acts of murder and rape from the point of view of right or wrong. They paint the religion the same way if adherents to that religion support the wrong act.

    Thankfully, most muslims are against the horrific acts seen recently, just as most christians are against the horrific acts committed during the crusades and the inquisition. There are militants on all sides and it is by these militants that any religion gets a bad name.

    My greatest fear though is that in the name of religion, someone commits an unspeakable act of terrorism which then makes the rest of the world reconsider why they should peacefully tolerate that religion. Especially when it allows the grooming of recruits to further these terrorist causes.

    Today is September 11. On this day 13 years ago, an unspeakable act of aggression was committed against the people of New York and Washington. Yet if there was an even bigger terrorist attack, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, then I have little doubt that the vast majority of people around the world would have to rethink whether they could accept any religion in their midst, even if that religion was not directly responsible for the act.

    A religious apartheid may be the result. Adherents to that religion may even be asked to leave the country for fear that they would also become involved and for their own safety. This happened in Europe and most of the ostracised communities migrated to the States. This is where we are headed. If the militants are not eradicated swiftly, then in a few years, we may be seeing more hate crime against muslims, just as there has been hate crime against the Jews for Gaza.

    I weep for a world which does not have tolerance, but I also weep for the people killed in the name of religion.

  5. louisemensch · September 11, 2014

    I agree fully. But. It’s too easy to blame religion because many bad crimes are committed in its name. One always ignores the phenomenal good done by religion and the religious. St. Louise and St. Vincent de Paul for example, invented orphanages.

  6. louisemensch · September 11, 2014

    Solomon – given your name, it is a little odd that you cite reported behaviour of Mohammed. What did Solomon do to obtain Bathsheba? How many wives did he have? How many slaves, concubines? Yet he built the Temple and for Christians he is a saint. You cannot divorce the times from the man or the actions and you cannot critique one set of scriptures by a different standard than your own. I note you did not address Paul’s exhortation to slaves

    • ǝsɐɥɔ ןǝıɹqɐƃ · September 11, 2014

      Hi Louise, you say: “You cannot divorce the times from the man or the actions”. That is true. When it comes to Muhammad, however, this is dangerous because to muslims he serves as an eternal example for mankind — which means his actions are divorced from their context, and held up as shining examples of what muslims should aspire to. Whether that is having sex with a 9 year old, having poets who satirised him assassinated, or telling people to drink camel’s urine to solve their medical ailments…

      • louisemensch · September 11, 2014

        did you not hear what the Muslim said to you? The hadiths are disputed. The Quran is the guiding scripture of Islam and the Quran does not contain any of this. I assure you that in the Bible, there are actions every bit as bad, only the Bible IS our holy book whereas the Hadiths do not have the agreed status of the Quran in Islam. Look at Genesis 19 and how Lot offers his daughters for gang-rape

        “4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, 7 and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

    • johanes · September 11, 2014

      bible tells everything in truth, all the prophet had committed sins but they are not representing the truth of God when they sins, bible just gave the brute fact, but islam is different, mohamad him self can change the word of give due to his pleasure and advantage.. i’m not the expert in islam but heard a lot in youtube about real hardcore of islam teaching, u can check on act17apologetics on youtube, thats where i get my reference from for islam

      • johanes · September 11, 2014

        sorry i mean the word of allah

      • louisemensch · September 11, 2014

        Well Johannes,

        Why don’t you get your reference for Islam by READING THE QURAN instead of relying on the words of others. You could read it for twenty minutes a day and learn something. It’s free right here. I am not a Muslim but I read the Quran twenty years ago as part of a rounded education and to study the faiths of other cultures.

        Here’s the first chapter. It’s precisely one page long.

  7. Graham Taylor · September 11, 2014

    Well I don’t blame Islam and accept the historical comparisons with Christianity but it remains an open question “does faith help or hinder the kinds of prejudices and cultural norms than lead to twisted attitudes to women” I’d say it might very well. Your attitude to Catholicism is nuanced and apparently, does not believe in literal bible truths. (I don’t either but then I see no reason to believe in anything beyond a certain mystery of existence that does not need to be worshiped just revered.) When “faith” unquestioningly (of necessity unquestioningly – it’s faith) places men and women in relations, apparently dictated by the creator, which also reinforces cultural prejudices and traditions of superiority, its not hard to see the religious beliefs, particularly when held uncritically as part of the problem.

  8. goggzilla · September 11, 2014

    Theology (and the Law) are not your strong points Lulu. What teenage girl will sell herself for a kebab, bottle of vodka and packet of ciggies? The demonization of Islam continues apace, plod is terrified of the disillusioned turning to Mecca. On the topic of rape and the law why weren’t you arrested for naming Ched Evans “victim”?

    • louisemensch · September 11, 2014

      the rape victims started at 11.

      16 is the age of consent.

      These were child rape victims.

      • goggzilla · September 12, 2014

        The activity of the gang was both illegal and immoral but scapegoating of the Umma is increasing. Quo vadis Ched Evans?

  9. TO tell the truth means to question PC · September 11, 2014

    The fact is that NO religion does what Islam does. Only Islam produces such levels of depravity. Other religions did their share of violence in the past, but they assimilated the new reality of peace and cooperations. So there MUST BE something unique, something perverse in Islam. That should be a matter of serious study even if it offends some people.

  10. leatherq · September 12, 2014

    Dear L, you mention police collusion and that is a major factor here. Also one notes you did not reply when asked about your non arrest for naming a rape victim via social media.

  11. anon · October 9, 2014

    This post does a good job of noting the similarities between Catholicism and Islam and then exploring what is different (the lack of decent contextual interpretation amongst Muslims).
    As a Muslim, I really appreciate how rare this kind of analytic understanding is. Luckily, senior Tories (Cameron, BoJo, O Bourne) and now Louise, have always been right on the money when it comes to this kind of understanding of Islam. Instead of lacing it all with class (solidarity) as Labour always have done, in the long term it is this kind of understanding that will help us all develop a British Islam that is better interpreted for our (Western) surroundings.
    The issue for Muslims is mainly one of leadership, whilst certain Muslims (eg the ubiquitous Mo Ansar) turn up all over social media and on TV as the ‘voice of British Muslims’, the smallest challenge quickly exposes them as representatives of no one and certainly not of the liberal core that make up the vast majority of British Muslims.
    One thing that we have to bear in mind for British Muslims and why many have such an outdated or incoherent interpretation of Islam is that most British Muslims hail from the Mirpur region of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir. This area was never (and despite being flooded with foreign money,) is still not on a par with large urban centres such as Lahore, Karachi and more recently Islamabad. After Mirpur, the largest population of immigrant Muslims to the UK comes from the NWFP-Punjab border regions. Muslims coming to the UK from those areas came to escape extreme poverty. It is a fact that they left a society that was not only hierarchically very rigid, but economic and social inequality served to further reinforce that hierarchy. They left that society to a society that is arguably the most advanced country in the world. This change naturally brings with it some major challenges. An example of this is forced marriage. Forced marriage is a very real phenomenon and is just one of the shocks that comes from trying to transplant an outdated village interpretation from one power dynamic to a society in which most of the same rules do not apply.
    Elite society in Pakistan is far more liberal than even Pakistanis may imagine, but they are not the ones that needed to leave their country for mainly economic reasons.
    The vast majority of Muslims who came here, had a very ropey understanding of Islam and certainly (due to their lower economic status) no permission to challenge or critically analyse their faith.
    Coming to the UK has now led to many 3rd generation Pakistanis searching for a religious identity with solid reference points. Once more, this is incompatible with Britain as we know it today, where despite rhetoric, religion is generally divorced from party politics and often a private matter.
    This search for an identity is pushing some into the arms of extremist groups and the vast majority into groups with spiritual and religious leaders (who are often not of Pakistani origin) such as the Syrian Imam Yaqubi.
    I profoundly hate being made to feel an outsider by having to prefix my views with ‘I hate extremism/I hate ISIS’ etc. It is not very British to be extreme at anything (even being extremely good at sport is slightly embarrassing for us).
    But if parties like UKIP regularly air racist, sexist, bigoted views and not only get away with it but march to the mainstream, Muslims will (re)turn to the comfort zone of religion, where else do you expect British Muslims to turn?
    Most British Muslims (the ones not on telly) are a product of the hierarchy in Pakistan and have done what anyone who escapes extreme poverty would do. Build and buy houses, cars and set up small businesses. Until a serious realignment takes place in British politics and the Conservative party becomes the natural home for British Muslims, the search for an identity for British Muslims will continue. A victim mentality isn’t encouraged in the Quran, education, hard work and entrepreneurship is. The something for nothing culture that pervades Labour and New Labour (calling a benefit reduction a tax) is something that was totally alien to first and second generation British Muslims, if we are not careful, this culture will spread to others who find solidarity in class instead of in values.
    Most Muslims couldn’t care less for the ‘leaders’ such as Mo Ansar or even the MCB and see through them instantly for what they are. What we do need are welcoming institutions that are part of the British establishment, that rightly challenge us when we are wrong so that we can consign the views transplanted from poverty to history.

  12. Sergeant Bash (@henrymcg) · November 9, 2014

    “Both our faiths DID do that”

    Yes we DID do that. And these days not anywhere near so much – it’s an important distinction. Regrettably Islam – on the other hand – seems to have lurched in a very fundamentalist direction for a century or so.

    I keep hearing people who want to be nice saying “the vast majority of peaceful Muslims” this that and the other. On what evidence is this based? Just because the (very political) BBC tell us so?

    How do we know the cast majority of British muslims are stunningly reasonable? So many Muslims I meet have deep, prejudicial distrust of us – it’s part of the reason so many Brits distrust them in return. And I hear scary stats about the number of people working in mosques to recruit young boys and men to one extreme muslim group or the other.

    So when I hear about how the “vast majority” are peaceful good people I pray that you’re right. I pray that you have some evidence for that other than just goodwill. Perhaps you’re right. Perhaps…

  13. StopUkipInMet · November 22, 2014

    “The UK is in the grip of an appalling scandal involving tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of vast-majority white girls – teen girls and child girls – abused by gangs of Pakistani Muslim men. The abuse is nationwide…”

    So what happened with this story? Was it hyped to cover something up like the Westminster Paedophile Trojan Horse and the Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone, scandal?

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