A 40-YEAR-OLD religious teacher has appeared in court charged with indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

Suleman Maknojioa faces five allegations that he intentionally sexually touched the girl, who was receiving private tuition from him.

Blackburn magistrates were told the assaults were alleged to have taken place in front of two other children, who were also being taught by Maknojioa.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said that on the day he was arrested, Maknojioa, a highly-respected Hafiz, was due to teach 30 children at a Blackburn mosque.

Maknojioa, of Billinge Street, Blackburn, pleaded not guilty to all five charges, and was directed to stand trial at Preston Crown Court, where he is due to appear on July 10.

He was remanded on bail with the conditions that he does not have any unsupervised contact with, or teach any child under the age of 16.

Maknojioa was also told to surrender his passport, and told he must not contact witnesses.

He was also ordered to report to the Boulevard police station twice a week.