IL--Accused imam gets probation; Victims respond
For immediate release: Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016
We are grateful that an abuse case against a prominent Chicago Muslim cleric has been resolved. 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. If he committed other crimes, he should be prosecuted for them too.
We’re glad Saleem will be on the sex offender registry for life. That will make it harder for him to win the trust of unsuspecting parents and hurt their 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.
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.
We are also grateful to Cook County Judge James Karahalios who ruled that testimony from two other women who say they were also assaulted by the imam will be permitted should the case go to trial.
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.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in religious settings to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)