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In a Britain increasingly rife with censorship and dominated by left-wing ideologies, we find ourselves hard-pressed to safely discuss serious issues in a public setting. There is one word we all seem to fear: ‘racist’. As such, we as a wider society often gloss over instances where ethnic or religious minorities commit organised crime, particular crime that we cannot understand. A tragic and well-known current example of this is the Telford abuse scandal, where predominantly Asian men abused children over a period of years.

It is important not to let our emotions – whether decidedly pro-Islam or anti-Islam – get ahead of us. It is always important to analyse the causes of crime. We often start by assessing criminals’ backgrounds, to try to find a common thread within a large collection of offenders. This is no different. So: do Muslims commit more sexual offences?

The short answer: yes, they do. As of 2014, Muslims constituted just under 5% of the UK population, but accounted for 15.2% of all imprisoned criminals. Compare this to the Hindu prison population two years later – 0.5% of all prisoners – bearing in mind that Hindus constituted 1.5% of the population. This trend continues with Christians (being 48.5% of the prison population vs. being 61.3% of the general population) and Jews (0.5% and 0.5% respectively). No other religion has such a high proportion of followers in prison in Britain – not by a long shot.

A report by Dame Anne Owers in 2010, when this trend was also prominent, pins the blame on socioeconomic factors. She may have a point here. Employment rates for Muslims as a whole are abysmally low – the lowest out of all religious groups – and less than two fifths of the Muslim population holds a recognised degree. Indeed, this can lead to a spiral of poverty and frustration. But there is one kind of crime that cannot be justified by this: sexual offences against children. What are the statistics on that?

In 2014 again, a freedom of information request confirmed that, of the 5,682 males serving prison sentences for rape at the time, 12% were Muslim men. A report by CEOP in 2013 on child sexual abuse found that, in 75% of cases where children were specifically targeted on basis of vulnerability, men identified as Asian were the perpetrators. So, clearly, the popular consensus among certain groups about “Pakistani Muslim rapists” has some truth behind it. Not only do Muslims in particular seem to commit more offences on the whole, but they also seem to commit notably more sexual offences – with Asian perpetrators on the whole committing an alarming proportion of crimes against children (there are, of course, more Asians who are Muslim than other ethnicities).

In conclusion, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. But immeasurably more helpful than jumping on the anti-Islam bandwagon is examining this carefully. Why exactly does this happen? As the trusty adage goes: correlation does not equal causation. Rather than leap to conclusions, we must engage in dialogue with Muslim communities, police officers, victims and prison authorities. The next step is not blind hatred. The next step is thought.