IL--Group begs more victims of Chicago Imam to speak up
For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 17
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)
We are grateful that a prominent Chicago Muslim cleric faces criminal assault charges. But now is not the time for complacency. It’s time for every single person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by Mohammad Abdullah Saleem – or cover ups by or at the Institute for Islamic Education – to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers and protect kids.
Our hearts go out to the four extraordinarily brave women who report having been molested and assaulted by this cleric and to the 23 year old who is cooperating with law enforcement. We are grateful that some of these women are also seeking justice in the civil courts. Victims of sexual violence should use every avenue they can to warn the public about dangerous predators.
No matter what happens in court, the courage of these women 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.
(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)