We need to know more about spread of Islam in prisons

How do you solve a problem like Anjem Choudary, the Islamist hate preacher due for release from prison on Friday? Choudary, whose followers included the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby and one of the terrorists involved in last year’s London Bridge attack, will be tagged and subject to restrictions including a night-time curfew as part of monitoring by the police, probation and security services. But the bigger underlying problem is how to prevent extremists like him radicalising and influencing others during their time behind bars.

This is why the Ministry of Justice is wrong to block academics who want to study why prisoners convert to Islam, including how it can lead to radicalisation. Apparently those behind the decision think that new research wouldn’t tell them anything helpful, which serves to highlight a bureaucratic culture more intent on burying its head in the sand than considering fresh approaches.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 64 votes] We already know that: 1. The extremist sect called the “Deobandi” are in control of the Islamic prison clergy; 2. The Deobandi are the largest group in the vocal MCB an organisation that will try to frustrate any attempt to deal with the issue; 3. Labour and then May as home secretary allowed the Deobandi take over to happen; 4. The Deobandi were founded as an anti European movement that eventually led to the Taliban; etc.

If the politicians do not know these things then they should not be home secretary or shadow, PM, or leader of the opposition. Perhaps a read of “Londistan” would help them. Start with how the Deobandi are legal, and why they control nearly all Sunni Cleric training in the UK. The prison impact is one of many.

[2ND 28] Either keep Islamist prisoners in solitary confinement (obviously out of the question), or have prisons solely for Islamists. The idea that there are ‘powerful Muslim gangs’ in prisons is also worrying.

[3RD 26] This is a major social problem, the proposed study should not be closed down but expanded. For instance it would be worth knowing how prison converts to Islam compare in terms of reoffending to those who convert to Christianity. It would also be useful to uncover why Muslims of imprisonable age constitute only 4% of the population but occupy 15% of prison places, as well as dominating the terrorism statistics.

Also how 900 British Muslims, including many ‘ordinary’ Muslims, according to family and friends, could be tempted to join a group whose recruitment videos featured the beheading of aid workers. To simply put all this down to being a religious/ethnic minority, racism etc, ignores the fact that we do not have problems on this scale with other minority groups.

Our Hindu community for example is significantly underrepresented in our prisons and non-existent among terrorist prisoners, and must be upset at being included by implication in the media’s deflective description of “Asian” grooming gangs (another area of specific criminal behaviour that the study could encompass). One wonders if the authorities are uncomfortable with such a study because the results might impact adversely on their preferred “It’s nothing to do with Islam” narrative. [The Times (£)] Read more

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