Man avoids British jail for child cruelty in Muslim rite

LONDON — A man convicted of encouraging two children to whip themselves with a blade-tipped flail as part of a Muslim religious ritual avoided jail in northern England on Wednesday.

Syed Mustafa Zaidi, 44, pushed the teens to take part in the self-flagellation which some Shiite Muslims use to mark Ashoura – a holiday commemorating the 7th-century death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein. The flail they used carried five 20-centimetre-long blades attached by chains to a wooden handle. It left multiple lacerations on their backs – most of which were superficial, although they did suffer some deeper cuts.

The boys were 13 and 15 at the time. British law bars publication of any further identifying details about them.

A court in Manchester gave Zaidi a 26-week suspended sentence and instructed him not to allow or encourage anyone under the age of 16 to beat themselves during the next 12 months.

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