There are also broader social issues arising from the case, and others like it, that liberals would prefer not to discuss; in particular how decades of liberal social polices on everything from immigration to welfare have helped to create the environments in which these crimes can be committed.

So what drives some Muslim men to commit these especially horrendous crimes against white girls? Well for a start there’s the issue of misogyny. No culture is innocent when it comes to the mistreatment of women, from casual sexism to domestic violence and rape; but across large parts of the Islamic world misogyny is enshrined in law, one example being that in some schools of jurisprudence the testimony of two or even four women is required to counter that of one man. Widely accepted interpretations of the law also permit men to have sex with “slave” women seized as war booty, which could provide a justification — albeit a warped and tenuous one — for British Muslim men who, while they might never dream of strapping on a suicide bomb vest, are deeply hostile to the values and culture of their host country.

Misogynistic cultural practices, such as veiling, the non-education of girls and female genital mutilation are also widespread in Islam. It doesn’t help that many western liberals who are normally champions of women’s right often choose to remain silent about these issues, or even try to defend them, as with Naomi Wolf and the burqa. In short, if a Muslim man is minded to rape or otherwise abuse a woman, he’ll have little trouble divining a legal or cultural justification for his actions.

But arguably the key factor in the Rochdale case and similar ones is the low opinion that Muslim men have of white British women, and in particular young working-class girls. Prevented from having sexual relations with girls in their own communities by family honor codes and religious strictures, they look to “inferior” white girls — particularly vulnerable teenagers — to satisfy their cravings, and in some cases consensual relationships degenerate into rape and abuse (the victims aren’t exclusively white girls though; groups representing British Sikhs and Hindus say their young women have also been targeted by Muslim men who boast about seducing “unbelievers”).

In the aftermath of one of the first “grooming” cases to attract national attention, the Labour MP and former Home Secretary Jack Straw, who represents a northern constituency with a large Muslim population, came under fire from sections of the media and the race relations industry for claiming that many Muslim men considered white women “easy meat.” But his view is supported by other Labour MPs in the party’s northern strongholds, where most “grooming” cases have occurred. By no stretch the imagination can they be described as racist bomb-throwers. (It’s important to distinguish the traditional left-of-center politics of Straw and his colleagues with the politically correct liberalism of officialdom and the media.)

You don’t have to take their word for it, however, because Muslim men who commit these crimes are happy to admit their contemptuous attitude towards white girls. One of the Rochdale gang summed up that attitude in court when he said: “You white people train them in sex and drinking, so when they come to us they are fully trained.”

One of most effective voices in articulating this misogynist/racist mindset among Pakistani Muslim men has been Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Muslim youth organization the Ramadhan Foundation, and himself a Pakistani. “They think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought,” Shafiq told the Daily Mail. In an opinion piece for the same paper he said the girl victims had been let down by “a system obsessed with the doctrine of political correctness, where anxieties about racism trump common sense and compassion.”