Allegations of sexual abuse by the longtime president of a leading Chicago-area Islamic school have roiled the region’s Muslims and raised questions about the reporting of sexual abuse in a close-knit religious community.
The allegations that Abdullah Saleem of the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin, a Chicago suburb, sexually abused an adult female school employee surfaced in December, when a leading Muslim scholar referred to them in a blog.
Elgin police confirmed Saturday that they are conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at the school, but spokesman Cmdr. Ana Lalley said she could provide no further details.
Saleem, who has been a respected Muslim leader in Chicago for decades, has not been charged with any crime.
Mohammed Kaiseruddin, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago , the region’s most influential Muslim umbrella group, said Saleem has resigned from his post and been replaced by his son. He said Saleem left for his native India after the allegations surfaced, and he did not know if he had returned.
“I’ve known him for a very long time; it came as a shock to me,” Kaiseruddin said. “Many people found it unbelievable that he would be accused of something like this. I found it unbelievable, too, until I talked to a few other people and got the same story from all of them. Sometimes our weaknesses lead us to do unbelievable things.”
Numerous attempts to reach school officials for comment were unsuccessful.
While the allegations against Saleem are nowhere near the scale of the sexual-abuse scandal faced in recent years by the Roman Catholic Church, they have raised similar painful questions about the relationship between religious communities and law enforcement officials.
How could one imams actions near the scale of the entire Roman Catholic Church?
Junaid Afeef, a lawyer and Muslim leader in Chicago, said religious and community leaders, especially among the older generation, initially had a “circle-the-wagons” response to the allegations. He said at first they largely ignored them, then chose to investigate them themselves rather than go immediately to the police.
“That’s not their job,” Afeef said. “I wasn’t surprised, but I was a little disappointed.”
“This isn’t the ’80s or the ’90s anymore,” he said. “For a while we insisted on believing that sex abuse and rape don’t happen in our community, because we are Muslims and Muslims don’t do that. But now we know that whatever social ills exists in the broader world, exist in our community, too.”
Odd, imams around the world can be readily found on Youtube stating beating your wife is permitted in Islam as is forcing her to have sex (i.e., rape).
And this guy was as revered as they come in the “Muslim community.” The scale is getting heavier, via the ultra pro-Islam, terorr-defender at the NY Crimes, Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Imam Stir Rifts in Insular Illinois Community:
Over time, she said the touching became more aggressive, reaching a point that she did something almost unheard-of in her community. She told people: her family, a social worker, an Islamic scholar. Recently, she went to the police. As word spread of what she had told them, three other women came forward, telling detectives that as young girls they had been molested by Mr. Saleem.
The accusations are particularly jarring because of Mr. Saleem’s stature. “In the South Asian community, he is like Billy Graham. He’s the archbishop of Chicago,” said Omer Mozaffar, an Islamic scholar who serves as the Muslim chaplain at Loyola University Chicago and who acted as a mediator between Mr. Saleem and his first accuser last year.