Man guilty of forcing boys to flog themselves
A devout Muslim was found guilty of child cruelty today in a British legal first after forcing two boys to beat themselves during a religious ceremony.
The jury at Manchester Crown Court found 44-year-old Syed Mustafa Zaidi guilty of two counts of child cruelty.
The boys, aged 13 and 15, were forced to beat themselves with a zanjeer zani, an implement containing five curved blades, during a ceremony to commemorate the death of a Shia Muslim spiritual leader.
Zaidi, of Station Road, Eccles, Salford, also flogged himself during the ceremony at a community centre in Levenshulme, Manchester, on 19 January.
The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted they wanted to beat themselves, but not under duress and not using Zaidi’s zanjeer zani.
A 20-minute film of the traditional Ashura ceremony, broadcast on satellite television, showed Zaidi flagellating himself until his back was bloody and cut.
Participants at the men-only event flogged themselves, while others chanted the name Husayn and beat their chests. Many cried openly.
The Ashura ceremony takes place during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and commemorates the death of Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and a central figure in the Shia faith.
Husayn was killed at the Battle of Karbala, alongside 72 members of his family, around 1,400 years ago.
Performing the matam – self-flagellation – brings out feelings of bereavement and grief at their deaths.
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