“Evil” people who sexually abuse children are not following the true teachings of Islam, according to a Keighley community spokesman.

Mohammed Saleem, of the Keighley Muslim Association, said the religion clearly condemns and forbids the crime.

“It’s not just religiously prohibited, it’s also culturally unacceptable,” he added. “It is sinful, and people who actually follow Islamic teachings properly would never do this.”

He was responding to a newly-released government report, which identifies child sex exploitation as being a problem within the Pakistani community.

An influential group of MPs published the report into child sex exploitation, which refers to recent cases in the Keighley and Bradford areas.

It says that while grooming is not confined to Asians, more needs to be done by this part of the population to challenge those who feel it acceptable to target young girls.

Former Keighley MP, Ann Cryer, who was accused of demonising the Asian community when she spoke about Pakistani grooming gangs more than ten years ago, is referred to in the report, as is current MP Kris Hopkins.

Mr Hopkins recently re-ignited the debate when he claimed grooming was linked to the unchallenged sexist behaviour of many Muslim men.

Both gave evidence to the government select committee that wrote the report, which concludes: “[Grooming] is a vile crime, which is perpetrated by a small number of individuals, and abhorred by the vast majority, from every ethnic group. However, evidence presented to us suggests there is a model of localised grooming of mainly Pakistani-heritage men targeting young white girls.

“It is important that police, social workers and others be able to raise their concerns freely, without fear of being labelled racist.”

Mr Saleem responded: “A great deal of work is being done to deal with this issue, and it is continuing.

“But there has to be more support from all agencies, including schools, and more support for parents.”

After hearing the report confirmed much of what she said, Mrs Cryer said: “You cannot blame the whole community, but they are the ones who have to talk about it. If they suspect for one minute someone they know is doing something like this, they have to take them to task.”

Mr Hopkins said: “I still think, to a large degree, the community hasn’t come to terms with it. If community leaders are not prepared to speak out about this then we need to bypass them.”

l What do you think? We welcome letters on this or any other subject. E-mail richard.parker@keighleynews.co.uk or write to The Editor, Keighley News, 80-86 North Street, Keighley BD31 3AG.