A British Muslim worship leader is accused of serially raping a young boy during visits to a mosque for religious lessons.
Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, is alleged to have sexually assaulted the boy, who was 12 years old at the time, inside the mosque where he worked as the Imam.
He is also charged with the attempted rape of and sexual activity with the boy’s cousin, who was 15 at the time, during a sleep-over at his home one evening.
Khan, who appeared in front of Nottingham Crown Court today wearing a black suit, white shirt and red tie, spoke only to confirm his name and to enter not guilty pleas to all eight charges against him.
He is charged with three counts of rape, four counts of attempted rape and one count of sexual activity with a child, all of which are alleged to have taken place on various dates between July and October 2009.
Opening the case today, prosecutor Tariq Shakor Khan told the jury of six men and six women that part of Khan’s job as Imam of the mosque, in Stoke-on-Trent, was to lead prayers and to give Islamic education lessons to boys who attended evening classes at the mosque.
He told the court that in police interviews in October 2009 the 12-year-old boy, who cannot be named, said he was singled out by Khan following the evening prayer on about half a dozen occasions, the first of which was in around August 2009.
The court heard that the defendant asked the boy before the alleged abuse “Do you want some?” and when he replied in the negative, the defendant would say “For God’s sake, just say yes”‘
‘On each occasion it happened at the mosque, usually after the formal prayers in the main prayer hall ,’ Mr Khan said.
‘The defendant would request him to lay out his red prayer mat in a different part of the mosque. That is when the remaining prayer would be completed individually and not in congregation.
‘He seems to suggest that usually the defendant would take him through the door marked ‘private’ and into the sitting room area, and into the room with cushions on the floor used by committee members.
‘On occasions, then passing through another door in the big room, the classroom, going to the corner at the back.’
Mr Khan said the defendant chose different places within the mosque that were not covered by CCTV cameras, one of which was the area near the building’s bins.
Mr Khan said the boy described the defendant asking him before the alleged abuse, ‘Do you want some?’ and when he said no, the defendant would say ‘For God’s sake, just say yes’.’
It was in October 2009, shortly after the youngster told his father about the incidents, that the family also became concerned about his cousin as he had become reluctant to attend the mosque after spending the night at Khan’s home.
Mr Khan said the 12-year-old finally broke the news of the abuse to his father by telling him ‘Dad, in the mosque Sheikh Sahib has been taking my trousers down.’
Mr Khan said the boy told police in his interviews that the defendant was considered a very important figure among the Muslim community.
‘He says his family trusted him and the defendant had a strong following. Such was that following that people would be prepared to die for him’, he said.
The court also heard how Mr Kahn attempted to rape the boy’s cousin while he stayed at his house.
He is alleged to have rubbed himself against the boy while he did the washing up before following him into his bedroom and attempting to rape him.
The trial was adjourned for the day and will resume tomorrow.
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