„Abdul Wahab Siddiqi was my great example”, says Alwin, once the right-hand man to the bearded Pakistani leader.
„But then he raped my two daughters.”
To his followers, Abdul Wahab is a saint. He has been dead for 23 years now, but he is still worshipped daily, in the Noeroel Islam mosque in The Hague, among other places. The centre of worship in the British village Nuneaton, too, is a kind of Dutch enclave. Many Surinamese people from The Hague commute back and forth to the large estate or even settle to live on the 25 hectare grounds.
There, Abdul Wahab’s eldest son Faizul Siddiqi reigns supreme.
Faizul, himself a lawyer in the British Sharia courts, aims to give the mosque in The Hague its own arbitration council very soon. Such courts are widespread in England, but here they are very contentious because the judgments in family cases can be contrary to Dutch law. For example, women may be advised by Sharia judges to accept polygamy, or not to report domestic violence to the police.
AudienceDutch academic Machteld Zee, an Islam researcher, went to visit Faizul in Nuneaton. She was given an audience in his luxurious office ’with the biggest ﬂat screen I have ever seen’. Faizul told her that it would be to great advantage if Dutch Muslims no longer have to go to England for a Sharia judgment.
A group of people at Noeroel Islam mosque want nothing to do with this sort of thing. They do not trust the Siddiqi clan one bit. This can certainly be said of Alwin, who now has the deepest regret about handing his girls over to the family long ago in blind idolisation. He sent them to England to live with the Siddiqis. The daughters were supposed to receive an Islamic education. In reality, they became domestic slaves.
Their mother Farida became suspicious and made a police report in 1993. ’You did not teach my daughters about Islam and Arabic as was promised’, she wrote to Abdul Wahab, ’but you raped them, abused them and assaulted them from the age of eleven.’ To the mosque-goers she wrote: ’People who are known as a saint, are worshipped, receive good treatment everywhere and who secretly violently rape young girls for years, week in, week out, terrify them with stories about evil spirits, so that they cannot sleep at night, and make them work as slaves all day until late at night, I will never forgive people like that.’ Nobody at the mosque wanted to listen.
InvestigationRotterdam police did want to listen. They, together with Interpol London, stated an investigation. However, it was stopped when Abdul Wahab died in 1994 at the age of 52. No suspect, no case.
One of the daughters wrote a detailed statement about what happened to her in the Siddiqi household. According to her, Faizul, the movement’s current spiritual leader, couldn’t keep his hands to himself either. Her sister confirms this. A second son, Noor, also made advances on the young teenage girls. But according to the statement, the father was the worst.
’Abdul Wahab called me into his room, suddenly grabbed hold of me and pulled my trousers [or: pants] off’, the woman writes in an account full of fear and pain. After that first time, the abuse took on systemic forms. According to the victim, Abdul Wahab would threaten that jinns (Islamic spirits) would punish her if she spoke out. ’The spirit would have become very angry and would have destroyed my future and my parents. I would be left unable to have children’.
She describes how the sheikh tried to make her believe that a spirit could give back her virginity. ’But first he had to take nude photographs of me to give to the jinn’.
ChargesNot only the father and the eldest son were accused. A third son, Qamar, was prosecuted in 2013 for the rape of a woman, but was acquitted. A fourth son was convicted, but for something very different: embezzlement.
There has been trouble at Noeroel Islam mosque in The Hague for some time. Meetings are rowdy and sometimes descend into pushing and shoving. According to the board, threats were even made with a handgun during one of these meetings. Six of the Hague congregation were expelled as members last month. Today, they are before the court to try to get that reversed. Previously, the board had tried to exclude four mosque-goers who were critical, but the courts prevented it.
The rebels call the Siddiqis’ Islamic movement ‘a sect’ and have watched with disquiet for years as the family on their English country estate receives money from The Hague every month. They do not trust the late Abdul Wahab’s clan an inch.
The expelled members are demanding transparency in the financial affairs and want to know what happens to the monthly payment to England. They fear that the mosque in The Hague will fall prey to the Pakistanis’ greed, and are demanding to view the accounts. „Faizul claims that his family paid for our Noeroel Islam mosque”, they say, „but we, the members, did that. The building is now fully paid for and we are afraid that they want to get their hands on the building, which cost five million Euros. The spiritual leader has the association in a stranglehold for financial gain.”
The Surinamese people’s mosque in The Hague is not the only place of worship where a power struggle is raging. In many Moroccan mosques, Salaﬁsts and traditionalists are battling for the upper hand. Surinamese Islam is originally oriented on India and Pakistan, and for the Surinamese the tug-of-war usually arises due to extremist Pakistani spiritual leaders, who vie among themselves and who want to leave their mark on the Dutch believers.
„The Noeroel Islam mosque is best off being entirely free of the influence of England.” Thus, imam Goelab from Zwolle. He himself was a follower of Abdul Wahab in England. The accounts of abuse linked to his guru mean nothing to him.
Even so, he believes that Dutch mosques would be better off without foreign influence. He himself was thrown out of his mosque in Zwolle when he opposed the influence of the extremist Pakistani sheikh Noorani.
Faizul Siddiqi informs us through is solicitor that the reports of sexual abuse are ‘unfounded’. He says that the insubordinate Hague mosque members are seeking to discredit the Siddiqi family in order to influence the court case. The relationship between the mosque in The Hague and the Hĳaz group in England is ‘experienced by both parties as constructive’, he states. He ‘regrets that the dispute inside the mosque has resulted in one of the parties has taken recourse to the media’.
According to the board of the Noeroel Islam mosque, the expulsion of the six members is a majority decision by the members and they knew nothing about the abuse case.