Despite compelling his children to flog themselves with a five bladed whip during the Ashura ceremony, Syed Mustafa Zaidi was handed a suspended sentence. He claimed that it was his religion, and that he believed he was doing nothing wrong encouraging his children to flog themselves.
Judge Robert Atherton stated:
“I reject the suggestion that they were forced to participate, although I consider it likely that the fervour of events is also likely to have affected their wish to participate.”
The father handed his 15 and 13 year old son the zanjeer whip. How on earth a child can be said to voluntarily, under his father’s direction and instruction, commit self flagellation is a mystery. This was not just a lack of parental care. Religious fervour does not excuse such encouraged acts of brutality by a father done by a minor to themselves. This was child abuse in the name of faith.
The judge further commented:
“You must realise that the law recognises that children and young persons may wish to take part in some activities which it considers they should not.
“It is sometimes expressed as protecting themselves from themselves.
“Your wrongful act was providing the means by which they were able to participate.”
I hope that the sentence provokes an out cry. His wrongful act was not just supplying the means, but encouraging his children to partake in an act of violence that they could not reason for themselves. This is a shameful verdict, given that this was an unprecedented case brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.
All quotes from BBC News.