Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Non-Muslims forced to convert in UK’s first Muslim majority prison

Non-Muslims forced to convert in UK’s first Muslim majority prison


Non-Muslim inmates in UK’s first Muslim majority prison are being pressured to convert to an “Islamic protection racket”, according to a report.

The number of Muslims in Cambridgeshire’s Whitemoor prison is said to be double what it was in 2008, and the highest proportion in any UK prison. Despite the prison staff’s warnings about radicalization, the situation is fast deteriorating.

A prison welfare report from the Independent Monitoring Board claims the increasing number of Muslims in the prison is “affecting the social nature of the jail and disrupting established hierarchies.”

“Against this background, we note that some prisoners and staff found the Muslim presence overwhelming. The social and religious fragmentation within Whitemoor potentially posed risks for discipline and hence safety,” the report said.

The UK’s prison population is roughly 15%. However, the report revealed that Whitemoor’s Muslim population has increased from 40% just one year earlier, and 28% in 2008. Between the ages of 22 and 39, Muslims now represent 56% of the population in this prison.

According to the report, the dominant group now constituted Muslims who had been replacing the greater multiplicity of gangs that had previously existed.

The report also highlighted a section of a groundbreaking study into the phenomenon of the growing influence of Islam in prisons, published in 2012 by Alison Liebling.

In relation to Whitemoor, the study noted, “There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith.”

It also highlighted how physically powerful players were re-establishing their outside identities as the leaders in the prison through “their (newly-acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing status.”