A row around race and sexual exploitation flared last night as opponents and supporters reacted to a suggestion by former home secretary Jack Straw that Pakistani men were grooming white girls for sexual abuse. The Blackburn MP made his comments on Friday night after two Asian men were sentenced that day for a series of rapes and sexual assaults on vulnerable young girls. Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years at Nottingham Crown Court and Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, was given eight years. The men were ringleaders of a gang who befriended girls as young as 12 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex.

Mr Straw told BBC’s Newsnight it was a “specific problem” in the Pakistani community. “These young men are in a Western society. In any event, they act like any other young men: they’re fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that. But Pakistani-heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a girl from Pakistan, typically. So they seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care… who they think are easy meat.”

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