Norway: Imam arrested for beatings at koran school

Norway: Imam arrested for beatings at koran school

An imam in a mosque in Drammen (Norway) was charged last Thursday for violence, for beating several children at a koran school with a cane or stick.

The abuse happened if children came too late, didn't manage to learn their koran homework or were restless, according to Drammens Tidende.

According to the newspaper the police suspect that the imam was violent against the children at several mosques. NRK reports that the police are investigating three mosques in the Drammen district, after one school in Drammen told the police that the children were afraid of being beaten in the mosque.

The suspicions against the imam are based on information from several children ages 6 to 12.  The information come in the form of reports of concern from the school or as anonymous tips from concerned parents.

Due to the fear of reprisals, no parent dared step forward.

"He beat them on the hands and the back.  The children expressed fear, and they are scared and dread going to the koran school.  They know what awaits them,' says Nina Bjørlo of the Drammen police to NRK.

A few days ago the police searched one of the mosques, but didn't find any beating instruments.  According to the police something described as a cane or stick was used, with a pin at the end.

The first reports of abuse came in 2002, and several different measures, including working with "Alternativ til vold" (alternative to violence) were tried.

The police says it can be difficult to prove abuse, but thinks the violence took place and is still ongoing.

According to the police agent on NRK, the case is very serious, since it involved several children, was extensive and happened over a long period of time.  The police aim is very clear: for the abuse to end.

For fear that the families or children will be outcast from their communities, the police chose not to interrogate the parents or children during the investigation of the case.

The imam, who was arrested when the mosque was searched, rejects criminal guilt and denies using violence.

The police also suspects that the heads of several koran schools made use of the same punishment methods.

Source: Dagbladet (Norwegian)

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