Muslim man convicted for child cruelty in Muharram flogging

August 28th, 2008 - 8:23 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 28 (IANS) A British court has found a Pakistani-born man guilty of child cruelty after he forced two teenaged boys to flog themselves with a bladed whip during Muharram.In the first case of its kind to be brought before a British court, prosecutor Andrew Nutall reminded a Manchester Crown Court jury that children in Britain are protected by civil law from any harm caused by adults.

“In this country, children under the age of 16 will be protected under the law from harm. Beyond the age of 16 it is a matter for them, but a line has to be drawn in the sand and that line is 16.

“In this country, the laws are very different from those in Pakistan. If you want children to perform this act then take them to Pakistan.”

The act of self-flagellation, held during the Ashura ceremony on the 10th day of the Muharram, is known as Zanjeer Zani and is practised by Shia Muslims all over the world.

Throughout the trial, Syed Mustafa Zaidi, a devout Shia who grew up in Pakistan, insisted that the act was part of the boys’ religion and, therefore, not illegal.

But the jury convicted him of two counts of child cruelty after hearing from the boys - aged 13 and 15 - how he goaded them to flagellate with bladed whips in spite of being cautioned by elders present at the ceremony.

The boys admitted that they had wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not using blades.

Zaidi now faces up to 10 years in jail.

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