CANTERBURY, England — Muslims have reacted with horror to a sensational report revealing that 1,400 children were subjected to rapes, abductions and beatings by gangs of men, mostly of Pakistani origin, in the northern English town of Rotherham.

In the report, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997-2013), lead author Alexis Jay writes that police and government officials turned a blind eye to the horrifying reports reaching them from abused children — almost all of them teenage girls — because of fear that, if widely known, they would stir up anti-Muslim feelings in Britain.

Muhbeen Hussain, founder of a British Muslim youth group in Rotherham, said the police and the town’s social services “totally failed us” by not taking action against gang members.

“We want the investigations to go back to 1997, cases reopened and prosecutions made, because these people aren’t convicted — they’re still on the streets,” he said.

There are approximately 8,000 Muslims living in Rotherham (population 257,000) and 2.8 million Muslims in the U.K.

“It’s definitely not racist to ask why the majority of Rotherham abusers were Asian men,” said Sajid Javid, culture secretary in Prime Minister David Cameron’s government. “How else will we learn from these awful crimes?”

In an Aug. 26 editorial, the conservative Daily Mail said the majority of British Asians are as horrified by the crimes committed in Rotherham as anyone else in Britain.

But it added: “But the inescapable conclusion is that the dictates of political correctness were placed above the duty to protect children against violent abuse. Could there be any more damning incitement of the warped priorities of British officialdom?”

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.