Saira Khan clashed with a caller on the topic of Asian grooming gangs, as they debated a tweet by Home Secretary Sajid Javid that used the words ‘sick Asian paedophiles’.
He was talking about the jailing of 20 men, who were handed sentences totalling over 200 years for grooming and abuse of girls in Huddersfield between 2004-2011.
Three separate trials had been taking place which were subject to reporting restrictions - it’s these trials that landed Tommy Robinson in court for broadcasting on Facebook outside Leeds Crown Court.
'An Asian problem'
Saira Khan argues with caller Umar
Caller Umar from Birmingham said that Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - was “saying it’s a Muslim problem, that it’s to do with Islam… it’s got nothing to do with Islam or Muslims”.
“Would you agree it’s an Asian problem?” asked Khan.
“Yes, [but] it’s a very nuanced debate,” Umar replied.
- Read more: Twenty members of grooming gang convicted over ‘campaign of rape and abuse’
- Read more: Tommy Robinson released on bail as contempt of court case referred to Attorney General
“This is an Asian problem, these are criminals, who are smoking drugs, selling drugs, going to pubs and clubs, they drink alcohol, anything but model Muslims… There are certain Pakistani communities within this country where the youth have become disenfranchised and they’ve glorified criminality. These are the paths they’ve gone down.”
He added that he didn’t think the issue of grooming was seen in Pakistani communities in other countries, but Khan disagreed.
“Those men didn’t look very youthful to me,” she said.
“We are talking about elderly men in our community, and I’m really sorry to disagree, but this is happening all around the world.
“When you get big migrant populations going over to Western countries - we saw what happened in Germany. We have to stop pretending this isn’t happening. I’m a Pakistani woman living in this country, I’ve been to Pakistan, and let me tell you it’s happening everywhere.”
Khan said that women in those communities stay “silent” because they are “petrified of speaking up for having acid thrown in their face”.
Ten of the men jailed for grooming girls in Huddersfield. Image: West Yorkshire Police
Umar argued that there is “no evidence” of Pakistani groups grooming children in other countries.
“The Home Secretary said Asians - he called out these sick Asian men,” he said.
“95% of paedophiles convicted in this country are white men. The language used by the Home Secretary is dangerous… the next time a white paedophile gang gets convicted, is he going to say these sick white men? This is justification for the far right to come and get me.”
Khan urged the Asian community to speak out against abuse.
“They don’t come out and say, this is my family, we don’t agree with this, this is not who we are,” she said.
“It’s very interesting, because the Asian community, in my eyes is very isolated.
“When this becomes a mainstream issue, they get very frightened, because we realise… how much we don’t know about this community.
“They have to come out and speak in the mainstream. If you’re frightened, speak out.”
Ethnicity of sex offenders
The data on the ethnicity of sex offenders, particularly groups who target underage girls, is patchy.
Information on ethnicity is not routinely published, but a study by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in 2013, which looked at data from 31 police forces, found that out of 300 offenders whose ethnicity was known and were part of groups targeting children because of their vulnerability, 75% were Asian.
However, researchers said the sample size was too small to draw informed conclusions from.
Anti-extremism organisation the Quilliam Foundation released its own research in 2017, which said that, of the 264 people convicted for gang grooming since 2005, 84% were Asian.
The ethnicity of sex offenders in UK jails is, again, not routinely published - but figures from 2007 show that almost 82% of sex offenders in prison were white.