IL--Group praises victims of Chicago Imam
For immediate release: Monday, Feb. 16
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Our hearts go out to the four extraordinarily brave women who report having been molested and assaulted by the powerful Muslim cleric Mohammad Abdullah Saleem.
No matter what happens in court, their courage has already protected children. We are proud of them and predict that over time, most in their own religious community will also consider them to be courageous and compassionate heroes.
It takes real courage for anyone to report sexual violence. It’s even tougher when the predator is a popular religious figure. And it must be even more difficult when one has been raised in an insular atmosphere. Again, we commend these strong women whose responsible action will no doubt inspire others who are still trapped in silence, shame, confusion and self-blame to get help.
We hope police and prosecutors will continue aggressively investigating. And we hope that others – especially witnesses and whistleblowers – will step up and call law enforcement with information about Mr. Saleem.
We also commend Mr. Omer Mozaffar for addressing Mr. Saleem’s crimes on his blog.
If Mr. Saleem is telling the truth and he’s still teaching at the Institute for Islamic Education, for the safety of children, school officials should oust him immediately. They should also write to current and former students and staff, begging them to call law enforcement with any knowledge or suspicions they may have about wrongdoing by Mr. Saleem. It’s important that these alleged criminal acts be treated as crimes and handled by secular authorities. And it’s important that religious and school officials actively help police and prosecutors, rather than minimize or conceal wrongdoing, either actively or passively.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)