Sabir Hussain sentenced to 10 weeks for kicking and slapping pupils at mosque in Keighley, West Yorkshire
A volunteer religious teacher at a mosque in Yorkshire has been jailed for 10 weeks for kicking and slapping young boys during lessons at a mosque.
Sabir Hussain admitted four charges of assault after the attacks were secretly filmed for a TV programme. The 60-year-old said they were not gratuitous but "chastisement", which he accepted had gone too far.
Bradford magistrates court heard that Hussain was a respected member of the Muslim community in Keighley, West Yorkshire, who had an "unblemished reputation" and was considered "firm but fair" in his work.
But district judge Sue Bouch told him: "You were in a position of responsibility. This is a gross breach of trust. It can be clearly seen on the footage that the children are flinching away from you. That suggests clearly to me, Mr Hussain, that they were fearful.
"The assaults comprised of kicking to the body and hitting whilst those children remained sitting on the floor. All of these factors make the offence so serious that I can only pass a term of imprisonment."
Hussain, who was wearing traditional dress, lodged an immediate appeal but was denied bail and taken from the court in handcuffs.
The sentencing hearing was told that the assaults, which involved four boys, happened at the Markazi Jamia mosque, where Hussain taught after retiring from the textile industry.
Footage was shown in February on a Channel 4 documentary, leading to a police inquiry. West Yorkshire police said the investigation was supported by the mosque, the Keighley Muslim Association and the Bradford Council For Mosques.
Clips from the programme, screened in court, showed Hussain walking up behind a line of boys sitting at prayer tables and kicking one in the back. Other footage showed him kicking other boys and slapping one repeatedly.
Shufgat Khan, defending, said: "What he did was to chastise. He's accepted the force used to chastise was not reasonable. But it's a very different case from someone's gratuitous use of force against vulnerable people."
A joint statement from Chief Superintendent Ian Kennedy and Kath Tunstall, of Bradford children's services, criticised the film-makers for not reporting the incidents straight away.
They said: "While we welcome the work of the production company that brought these offences to light, we do question their decision to wait until a number had been committed before they contacted us.
"Some of these assaults would have been avoidable if we had been informed earlier and been in a position to take positive action sooner rather than later. It is important that our children are safe and free from harm, particularly so in educational establishments, and it does not matter whether that is a local authority school or classes held at a religious establishment.
"We welcome today's sentence which is an appropriate punishment for the acts together with a clear deterrent message that this is not acceptable in our society."
Ann Cryer, a former Labour MP for Keighley, who for more than eight years called for children's allegations to be treated seriously, said: "I'm very pleased Channel 4 felt able to make this programme ? most broadcasters stay well away from this issue.
"This violence against children was going on under the noses of the mosque authorities, and either they didn't know about it or knew about it and did nothing. This is the biggest mosque in Keighley ? if other mosques now no longer tolerate hitting children, why not this one?"
The Dispatches programme also exposed what the Department for Education called a "culture of intolerance" at the Darul Uloom Islamic high school in Birmingham.
The school's headteacher has since been replaced and a number of teachers dismissed.