Anger over UK MP's abuse comments
Outcry follows politician's comments that some British Pakistanis see white girls as "easy meat".
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2011 17:51 GMT
Jack Straw's comments have prompted anger from Britain's Pakistani population [GALLO/GETTY]

A senior UK politician has found himself accused of stereotyping British Pakistani men after he said that some of them saw white girls as "easy meat" for sexual abuse and called for the Pakistani community to be more open about the issue.

The comments by Jack Straw, a former interior minister, came after a UK court jailed two British Pakistani men for raping and abusing several girls aged between 12 and 18.

The British Pakistani community reacted angrily on Saturday to what many see as the stereotyping of a whole community.

Mohammed Shafiq, who heads the Ramadhan Foundation, a UK-based Muslim youth group, told Al Jazeera that Straw's comments were "naive and very stupid and irresponsible".

"Ninety-five per cent of child abuse in this country is committed by white people and we do not say that this is ingrained within white communities," he said.

"There is a perception among criminal gangs that white teenagers are less valuable than their own daughters and their own sisters ... they are criminal gangs, they don't represent any community or any faith."

But he added: "We need to focus back on the victims of these crimes and not the political implications of a politician making comments."

'Vulnerable girls'

Straw, who was the focus of another media storm in 2006 when he said that Muslim women should not wear veils that fully covered their face, made his comments in an interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme.

"Pakistanis, let's be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders' wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders," he said.

"But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men ... who target vulnerable, young white girls.

"These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men ... but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.

"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care ... who they think are easy meat."

His comments followed the sentencing by a British crown court on Friday of Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, the ringleaders of a mainly Asian gang that targeted and abused vulnerable girls.

Many of the victims were given alcohol or drugs before being forced to have sex in cars and hotels.

Saddique was jailed for at least 11 years and Liaqat was given a minimum sentence of eight years. Six other men had already been sentenced in connection with the case.

Straw's comments have drawn criticism from other politicians, including Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee.

Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.