Heckmondwike Imam ‘forced marriage’– MP responds

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MP Mike Wood has said allegations that a Heckmondwike Imam agreed to perform a forced marriage involving a 14-year-old girl are ‘very worrying’.

Undercover reporters working for ITV’s Exposure programme are said to have filmed Shams-Ul-Huda Khan Mishabi, who preaches at the Jamia Masjid Kanzul Iman Mosque, in Albion Street, agreeing to perform an Islamic marriage, or nikah, between a 14-year-old girl and an older man.

Mr Wood, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said: “All local people will, like me, be shocked by this revelation if it turns out to be true. In 25 years as an elected representative in this area I have only known of one case of an attempted forced marriage.

“Clearly what this programme has unearthed is very worrying. Forced marriage or underage marriage is completely unacceptable and it is against the law. I hope anyone engaging it or conspiring with it in any way will face the full force of the law.”

The reporters are said to have posed as the mother and brother of the teenager to be married – and secured agreement from 18 out of 56 mosques they approached.

The documentary, to be broadcast on Wednesday, will apparently show Mr Misbahi agreeing to perform the ceremony.

On being informed that the girl is against the marriage, he tells the reporters that British law means he will not be able to provide official marriage papers but adds: “We’ll make everything okay by Islam. We’ll write down and put it in our records.”

The mosque said it had launched a thorough investigation into his comments.

“This organisation does not condone forced or underage marriages,” a spokesman said.

•See this week’s Spenborough Guardian for the full story.