Koran teacher cleared of assaults

A teacher at a mosque accused of assaulting pupils when they failed to memorise verses from the Koran was found not guilty of the allegations today.

Sohail Musa, 21, was charged with assaulting two of his pupils while he was teaching a class at Zakariyya Mosque in Peace Street, Bolton, on April 20 last year.

Musa - an "Islamic scholar" - "punched and slapped" pupils when they made mistakes while reciting verses from the holy book, a three-day trial at Bolton Magistrates' Court heard.

But District Judge Paul Richardson said today: "I have to ask myself after all the evidence, am I satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that one or other of these assaults has been proved? I find that I am left with doubt.

"I must find in favour of the defendant and absolve him of both these charges."

Speaking after the hearing, Musa, of Croston Street, Bolton, said he was "really pleased that justice had been done".

He said: "I want to thank my family and friends and the community who have whole-heartedly supported me."

The trial heard from two boys, both 13, who gave evidence via video link.

One of the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Musa "twisted his arm and punched him near his kidneys" when he made a mistake while reciting a verse from the Koran.

The second boy said he got "12 hits on the head" when he made mistakes.

Peter Turner, defending, said the boys' version of events was not the truth.

He said Musa had warned the first boy about his behaviour and patted him on the back when "he tried to encourage him to behave".

A spokesman for Bolton Council of Mosques said they had worked closely with Bolton Council's safeguarding team to ensure all mosques and madrasahs were aware of the requirements for child protection.

The spokesman said: "We cannot go into details into an ongoing case, but have full confidence that all our mosques take safeguarding and teaching practices very seriously and ensure that the best provision and teaching is provided to all children and young people in the mosques' care across Bolton."