A UK investigation has revealed that some British Muslim clerics are willing to perform marriage ceremonies for brides as young as 12 years old, so long as the girls’ parents promise not to tell.  According to the Daily Mail, Imam Mohammed Kassamali of the Husaini Islamic Centre in Peterborough is alleged to have reassured a man who approached him posing as the father of a pre-teen bride:

I would love the girl to go to her husband’s houses (sic) as soon as  possible, the younger the better. Under sharia (Islamic law) there is  no problem. It is said she should see her first sign of puberty at the house of her husband. The problem is that we cannot explain such things (the marriage) if the girl went tomorrow (to the authorities). The other thing is the underage thing and if tomorrow the girl is,  let’s say coerced or forced into this, and she goes and reports it to the police then she will put all of us into the problems.

Retired Imam Abdul Haque – who agreed to officiate the girl’s marriage ceremony – allegedly had this to add:

Tell people it is an engagement but it will be a marriage. In Islam, once the girl reaches  puberty the father has the right, the parents have the right, but under the laws of this country if the girl complains and says her marriage has been arranged and she wasn’t of marriageable age, then the person who  performed the marriage will be jailed as well as the mother and father.

The Peterborough Telegraph reports that Imam Kassamali has stepped down pending the results of an internal investigation initiated by the mosque.  Although an increasing number of Muslims and progressive clerics emphatically condemn child marriage, the harmful cultural practice persists in some communities.

READ MORE: The British child brides: Muslim mosque leaders agree to marry girl of 12… so long as parents don’t tell anyone, Daily Mail (September 9, 2012).