The leader of the Ramadhan Foundation has accused Pakistani community elders of "burying their heads in the sand" on the issue of on-street grooming, following nine men being found guilty today of being part of a child sexual exploitation ring.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the group, said police should not let the "issue of race" stop them from addressing the issue.
The Ramadhan Foundation is a Manchester-based Muslim organisation that works for "peaceful co-existence and dialogue for all communities".
Mr Shafiq said: "There is a significant problem for the British Pakistani community, there is an over-representation amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming, there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals.
"They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought; it is this sort of behaviour that is bringing shame on our community.
"I urge the police and the councils not to be frightened to address this issue, there is a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over sensitive."
He added: "I have been overwhelmed by the support the Ramadhan Foundation has been given by young people for our campaign on child grooming but concerned that community elders are once again burying their heads in the sand, this concerns us all and we must speak out.
"The community elders need to learn from the reaction of young people and reject any attempt to silence the reaction from our community.
"We have over the past 12 months seen tremendous progress, more Imams have spoken out in Friday sermons; workshops and activities for young people have happened in the community and there is a strong commitment to see this work through.
"We encourage local authorities and schools to learn from Rochdale where over 9,000 teenagers have attended a workshop on child grooming.
"The Ramadhan Foundation is ready to stand with anyone who wishes to protect these young teenagers."
He said the police would need to "reflect on their failures" in this case.
"Finally the far right and fascist movements are not welcome to Rochdale, we reject their division and hatred and it has no place in a tolerant and diverse society.
"We will learn lessons from this case but not allow outsiders to divide us," Mr Shafiq added.
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