An Islamic teacher, who repeatedly molested an 11-year-old girl while teaching her the Koran, has been spared jail sentence because his wife cannot communicate in English. Suleman Maknojioa, 40, allegedly rubbed the minor’s legs and reached under the folds of her prayer headscarf so he could touch her chest. Maknojioa’s sentence was initially suspended because the court heard that his family of six was solely dependent on his income, despite him having severe kidney problems.
The accused was hired to give the girl and her two brothers private tuition. He however, favoured tutoring the girl and claimed that he touched her only to reassure her. But, his victim displayed terrified signs of behavior whenever her lessons were due. He was finally reported after the mother of the children overheard her two sons, 13 and 7 years old, talking about the repeated incidents.
Maknojioa was known as a scholar of the Koran. On the day he was arrested, he was supposed to teach 30 children as a mosque near his home in Blackburn. Later, he was convicted of five accounts of sexual activity but on March 17, he managed to escape with a 40-week prison sentence.
“This is a total disgrace. What type of message does this send out to paedophiles? He should be behind bars for this type of abuse. We are all horrified,” said a friend of the victim’s family.
Maknojioa had been engaged by the children’s parents in 2012 to teach them about the Islamic faith up to three times a week at their home in Lancashire. In September that year, the girl and her two brothers started tuition of the Koran in Arabic in their living room. The court heard she was better at her lessons than her brothers, who were often told off. Maknojioa allegedly began touching the girl’s arms and head, then moved to her legs, feet and chest and her thigh. The girl claimed that the touching typically occurred as she prayed or read from the Koran while kneeling or sitting cross-legged.
“I was too afraid to say something. He would put his hand under my headscarf on my chest and he would squeeze. He would only use the one hand. The other hand would be writing something or he would be pointing to my brothers and telling them to pray harder. No matter how hard my brothers tried to pray it wasn’t good enough. He would always say I was better, even if I wasn’t. My brothers asked me what he had been doing and I didn’t know how to describe it. I told them he had touched me up. They told me to tell Mum and Dad – but I just didn’t want to tell anyone. It went on for ages, his hand going up and down. I was afraid of what my teacher would do,” said the victim.
Her older brother said, “I knew what was happening for about a month before my parents. My sister would get very upset at the idea of anyone knowing. It was difficult for me to know what to do. He favoured her. He would give her ten pages to learn and we would only get three. That way he spent most of the lesson with her. He did it slyly. When it happened, she was trying to pray. I have seen him touching her thigh in a stroking motion. It was inappropriate.”
This reportedly continued from September 2012 to June 2013 until the course of lessons ended. The girl’s father later confronted Maknojioa at his home but he denied all the charges.
Defendant Frida Hussain said, “He is married with six children. His wife doesn’t work and speaks very little English, they are dependent on him to lead their lives and with the running of the household. One of the children has learning difficulties. Because he doesn’t teach now he is reliant on benefits.”
“The parents invited you into the sanctity of their own home. They trusted you and left you with their children. I have read a letter from the girl in which she sets out her initial confusion at conduct of this sort from one…who she and her brother were expected to trust. The older brother felt he wasn’t able to protect his sister. She was of a tender age, young, vulnerable and impressionable. There could be no greater recognition of trust than between a minister of religion and pupils whose care is entrusted to him by parents. You breached that trust deliberately and repeatedly,” said Judge Michael Byrne to Maknojioa.
Maknojioa will be under supervision for two years and made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for ten years.