Monday, March 15, 2010

Huge Rise in UK Muslim Prison Population a Growing Problem Says BBC

Muslims now account for 12 percent of the prison population of Britain, and double that number in high security jails, according to a BBC report on Islam in UK jails.

The Muslim prison population in England and Wales has risen sharply in recent years and with it claims from both former inmates and prison officers that gangs of Muslim prisoners are an increasingly powerful force.

One former inmate is quoted as claiming: “Muslims run it. Muslims run the prisons and there’s nothing the screws can do about it. For a Muslim you’d say it’s good but for a non-Muslim, it’s very, very bad.”

Worryingly, this is a claim that is backed by former prison officers and other inmates — including Muslims.

According to the BBC, one Muslim habitual offender openly admitted to helping to convert non-Muslim inmates to Islam and using violence against anyone who dared to “disrespect” his religion.

He claimed that he received his first prison term at the age of 15, remarking that there were hardly any Muslim inmates back then.

“At the beginning not many knew about Islam. There weren’t many converts. The mosque was empty, but nowadays jails are run mostly by the Muslims.

“There are certain brothers that convert purely on the basis that they read Islam and they want to believe in something that does good for them. Then other people because they want to be looked after.

“I’ve been in jail five times and on my last occasion, I’ve seen jails being run by Muslim inmates.”

According to the latest available official figures, Muslims represent 12 percent (9,795) of the prison population in England and Wales. This is an increase of almost 50 percent over five years.

The increase over the period 2003 to 2008, showing the number and percentage of the overall prison population of England and Wales that claims to be Muslim, is startling — as the Ministry of Justice’s official figures revealed:

2003: 6,136 (8%)

2004: 6,571 (9%)

2005: 7,246 (10%)

2006: 8,243 (11%)

2007: 8,864 (11%)

2008: 9,785 (12%)

More worrying still are the percentage of Muslim prisoners held in high security prisons, percentages said to be well above average.

In 2008, Muslim prisoners accounted for 34 percent of prisoners in HMP Whitemoor, in Cambridgeshire, and about 24 percent of inmates in HMP Long Lartin, in Worcestershire.

In another worrying development, a former prison officer who worked at HMP Long Lartin told a researcher about cases where non-Muslim prisoners were seriously assaulted and intimidated for refusing to abide by unofficial rules imposed by Muslim gangs, such as eating “unclean” pork or listening to “decadent” Western music.

The former prison officer said: “Muslim gangs was [sic] something I was very concerned about — the situation changed where underworld gangsters who used to keep discipline and order were no longer in charge in the prison.

“The younger guys, who were being forced to convert, were doing it more for protection from a Muslim gang rather than [to] follow the faith — most of them weren’t interested in the faith.

“I knew one lad quite well who was approached by the radical Muslims, and he changed. He just seemed very frightened all the time.

“He used to be forced to pray at certain times and I know for a fact they would be woken in the middle of the night to pray.

“He even grew a long beard even though he didn’t want to. I asked him why he grew the beard and he said, ‘It’s survival miss, survival’.”

Meanwhile the national chairman of the POA, the prison officers’ trade union, explained that not all imprisoned Muslims were in gangs, but confirmed there was a growing problem.

He also said: “People are being radicalised, forcibly radicalised by these gangs. We see it as a real danger, now and for the future of prisons.

“As the Muslim population grows, the gangs are becoming more and more prevalent by the week and they fight to take control of the drug trade and the dealing of mobile phones in prison.

“This will make our prisons even more violent.”