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    Ultimatum: British Non-Muslim Prison Inmates Forced to Convert to Islam or Get 'Beaten' - Report

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    The latest report by the UK government only serves to underscore widely held concerns about the nature and sophistication of Muslim extremest gangs operating in the British prison system.

    Fanatical Muslim gangs in English prisons are forcing an ultimatum upon their fellow inmates: covert to Islam or face violence, a government report has cautioned.

    The groups, which are often led by individuals who are serving time in prison for terrorism offences, are recruiting violent inmates as “foot soldiers,” according to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) report entitled, ‘Exploring the nature of Muslim groups and related gang activity in 3 high security prisons.’

    The report quotes a non-Muslim inmate at an undisclosed prison as saying, “there is an underlying pressure for people to convert and join the gang. Their tactic is to befriend someone when they come in. If they don’t convert, they will then start spreading rumours about them, that the person is a snitch, so that they will be ostracised. Then the beatings follow.”

    "There were reports of some extreme violence being enacted on those who were reluctant to convert," the report adds. 

    The report’s authors interviewed 83 randomly-selected adult prisoners found on the main wings and 73 members of staff from across the three institutions. Allegedly, the gang leaders more often than not tend to be Muslim by birth, and often speak Arabic along with having a greater understanding of Islamic doctrine than the ordinary gang members. However, despite that apparently pious image, one inmate told the researchers that, “people who’re leading them [the gangs] aren’t intelligent. They read the Quran and make it fit with their life and their own beliefs. They don’t fit their life around the religion.”

    The briefing paints a rather disturbing picture of a well-oiled and orchestrated campaign by the gangs, rather than isolated incidents of random violence. Typically, the groups will have their own hierarchy of leadership, in which there will be “recruiters,” “foot soldiers” as well as standard rank and file members.

    “Those who had committed terrorist crimes often held more senior roles in the gang, facilitated by the respect some younger prisoners gave them. While recruitment was relatively indiscriminate, street gang members were particularly targeted for their propensity for violence,” the report says.

    Indeed, the findings conclude that street gang members in prisons often join the extreme Muslim groups because it offers them with the opportunity to continue with familiar behavioural traits, such as “violence, bullying and intimidation.”

    “A lot of it is about furthering their own interests. They want to have power and more influence. They are less bothered about the [extremist] cause and more about furthering their own criminality and violent aims,” said a prison staff member, who remained anonymous in the study.

    The research found that most of the converts have “little knowledge of Islam and little interest in adhering to the religious practices” and are largely driven by an “anti-establishment agenda.”

    The report has ugly echoes of previous warnings that the British prison system is becoming a hotbed for recruitment to Islamic extremist groups. Such concerns - which have been sounded for years - include a BBC investigation from 2010 which found that Muslim groups were enforcing Sharia law on some UK prison wings. Moreover, in 2015, a report by the Prison Officers Association found that an increasing number of non-Muslim prison inmate were being forced to pay ‘Jizya,’ or “protection tax” to gangs until and unless they converted to Islam.

    Reports go as far back as 2008, when a confidential internal report from Whitemoor maximum security prison in Cambridge was leaked to the media, which exposed anxieties among staff that a “serious incident is imminent” as several wings came under the control of extremest Muslim prison gangs.

    Despite the pervasive concerns, back in 2018, and to the shock and dismay of many, the MoJ blocked plans for an academic study into the reasons why prison inmate covert to Islam, and how this can lead on to radicalisation. While it is not entirely clear why the MoJ prevented the study from going ahead, many suspected at the time that it was due to pressure from outside activist groups who were accusing the study - before it had even been conducted - of “Islamophobia” and “racism.”

    Tags:
    United Kingdom, UK Ministry of Justice, Prison, Muslim converts, Terrorism, Islamic extremism
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