[ View the story "Britain's Muslim prisoners" on Storify] Britain's Muslim prisoners Allegations of Islamic 'gang culture' in British jails as number of Muslim inmates soars.
The Stream· Tue, Nov 05 2013 10:01:53
Over the last
, the number of Muslims in British jails has
from 3,681 to 11,278.
The chart below from the
Prison Population Statistics
shows that British Muslims over the age of 15 now make up 4 per cent of the general population and 13.1% of its prisoners.
Population in Prison by Religious GroupAJstreamTEST
Social media users argue that Muslims are being incarcerated because the youth in the community do not have adequate
and access to economic opportunities:
Ahtsham Ali, an adviser to the Prison Service, said that mosques in the UK fail to engage with the young men that come through their door because they use imams from overseas who are unable to preach in English. He said that more needs to be done to understand problems in society like family breakdown, arranged marriages and drugs.dailymail.co.uk
Couldn't it possibly have something to do with the much higher poverty rates amongst the British Muslim population? Differences in upbringing and education perhaps? The fact that Muslim communities are often centred in urban areas where crime rates are higher anyway?facebook.com
Others believe Muslims are victims of institutionalized '
@AJStream Islamophobia has created communication barrier between Muslims n non Muslims which make the muslims feel isolated n less welcomedMohd_Fadhl
@AJStream the government don't make the young british muslims feel secure ..instead the government ban the youths from performing somethinggrema mohammed
@mmbilal Entrenched misunderstanding of Islam, attitudes twd immigration/minorities, unhelpful opinion polls & bias in British/social mediaalhaji chodi
While there are no conclusive reasons for the increase in Muslim incarceration,
state that conversions to Islam in British jails, allegedly by
, are on the rise.
A 2012 research report commissioned by the British Ministry of Justice concluded:
"More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most 'available' option for those looking for belonging, meaning, 'brotherhood,' trust and friendship."gatestoneinstitute.org
It is feared that these conversions are leading to a
of the prisons, making them potential
grounds for groups like al-Qaeda.
An inmate reported anonymously:
There have been incidents here where people have been targeted and pressured and bullied into converting to Islam. 'Young Muslim men are being radicalised in here and one day they may commit acts of terrorism in this country. 'There seems to be nothing being done here to stop it and people are scared to speak out.'dailymail.co.uk
However a government
contests the claim that converts would become terrorists upon release:
There has been considerable public focus on them as potential extremists and on prisons as the place where they may become radicalised, often through conversion – even though fewer than 1% are in prison because of terrorist-related offences.justice.gov.uk
The report also notes that for many inmates, converting to Islam has been seen as a positive influence:
Many Muslim prisoners also stressed the positive and rehabilitative role that Islam played in their lives, and the calm that religious observance could induce in a stressed prison environmentjustice.gov.uk
All prisons offer a halal menu for Muslim prisoners, which some inmates see as better than the usual choices. The group are also excused from work and education while attending Friday prayers. Some converts, who are known as "convenience Muslims", admitted that they had changed faith because they received better food and more time out of the cells because of the requirement to attend Friday prayers.theaustralian.com.au
The Stream community shared their views on this story:
@Mohammed_Amin @Drsmeeee # Islam does not allow members of its faith to take advantage of the misfortune of others for conversion.Mashuq Ally
@AJStream Inmates are targeted contradicting the Islamic teaching “let there be no compulsion in religion, truth stands clear from error”`alhaji chodi
@ajstream It might be due to the fact that it is the only spiritual practice common in the coolers. And the majority inmates being muslims!Emmanuel Ögwang
@AJStream Maybe there are extensive preaching efforts/programs (personal or official) to introduce them to Islam and teach them about it.Reem M Tayeb
@mashuqally @Mohammed_Amin @Drsmeeee; We have done some peripheral work on this before. It is about power dynamics rather than faithTellMAMAUK
@AJStream Just a theory: Islam gives structure and discipline 2 prisoners bt they still retain status as being "other"فرح
@AJStream faith is powerful, I am a Christian, but my understanding is that faith gives hope and changes lives for the better. Mashallah!Faye
Others suggested ways to resolve the issue:
@AJStream Authorities shd respect the freedom of thought, conscience & belief of all inmates by promoting dialogue & a culture of tolerancealhaji chodi
@raisazaidi Suggesting that prison authorities release them or move prisoners to diff locations to get rid of the 'gang culture' :)Mushtaq Khan ッ
@AJStream British govt needs to be sincere to all irrespective of ones religion and beliefYahya Yahya Umar