UK prisons are failing to tackle Islamist extremism

The Times

The Times

The leaked report of a review into the prevalence of extremism in UK prisons reveals that the Ministry of Justice is failing to address the spread of Islamism among convicted criminals. Hate literature that was being “routinely distributed”  in at least ten prisons was “misogynistic and homophobic” in nature, and encouraged “the murder of apostates”. The review also “warned that lax controls and failings at a senior level of the prison service had created a breeding ground for Islamist radicalisation.”

Although clearance for publication has yet to be approved and the exact nature of described failings explained in more detail, it’s clear that this report contains yet more damning evidence that institutions with a responsibility to tackle extremism are not appropriately equipped or motivated enough to deal with it. The Times reports that:

“Jails in England and Wales held 12,328 Muslim inmates at the start of this year, of whom 131 were convicted terrorists and a further 1,000 were deemed vulnerable to radicalisation. Muslims make up 4.8 per cent of the population but 14.5 per cent of prisoners.”

However, it’s encouraging to see acknowledgement of the extremely conservative Deobandi sect of Islam highlighted as a core part of the problem.

“Deobandi seminaries produce 80 per cent of UK-trained Islamic scholars. Of the 200 full-time and part-time Muslim chaplains working in jails, 70 per cent were taught in Deobandi institutions. Evidence is thought to have been found that imams from other traditions felt “marginalised, bullied and intimidated” by the dominance of Deobandi theology in jail chaplaincies.”

Unfortunately, attitudes like those of Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, are part of the problem. Spurr praised Darul Uloom al-Arabiya al-Islamiya, Britain’s leading Deobandi seminary, saying that it promotes “fundamental British values such as democracy, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths.” This, despite the fact that their teachings vilify the “erroneous beliefs of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Ahmadiyya Muslims”, saying that “All who subscribe to such faiths are kuffar (disbelievers) and will go to Hell.”

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