Blackburn Imam arrested after paedophile hunters catch him trying to meet 15-year-old boy

The General Secretary of one of Blackburn’s biggest mosques has been suspended after he was caught trying to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex.

45-year-old father-of-five Mufti Ashraf Sidat arranged to meet the 15-year-old child for sex in exchange for money but was apprehended in a sting operation in Flixton, Manchester, by what appeared to be vigilante paedophile hunters.

He was arrested by police and released on bail until February 9.

Greater Manchester Police said in a statement: “At around 9.50am on Thursday 11 January 2018 police were called to Roedean Gardens in Flixton to a report of child grooming.

Officers attended and a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. He has been bailed until 9 February 2018 pending further enquiries.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting reference number 433 of 11/01/18 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

A video of the incident was originally posted on the “Justice Will Be Served” Facebook page.

Since it was posted the video has been viewed more than 137,000 times.

The live video shows Sidat as vigilantes accuse him of trying to meet a child after finding him on a dating app before he is arrested.

Hassan E Karolla, the trustee and chairman of Masjide Noorul Islam, released a statement about the incident.

He said: “Regarding the incident involving Mr Ashraf Sidat we have suspended him from all his duties at the Islamic Educational Society.

“I am working with my management team and the authorities who are conducting the investigation. I am also making arrangements for the overall management of the Madrassa whilst the investigation is carried out.

“Please note as the investigation is now in progress I cannot give you any further information. We are working closely with the authorities. In the meantime, please be reassured that your child’s teachers will continue to provide the best possible education in a safe and happy environment.”