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Islam prison conversions

Mark Easton | 13:44 UK time, Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Lags go Muslim for better foodIf you were in prison, why might you decide to convert to Islam? A "cushier life" and "nicer grub", according to the Sun this morning.

It is a line that many of the papers plucked from today's report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons [502Kb PDF] to explain why so many inmates of jails in England and Wales decide to embrace the Muslim faith while behind bars.

The idea that halal menus and Friday prayers are such "perks" that young lags queue up to convert surely cannot be the whole story. The perception of "material benefits" might be a factor, but another more compelling explanation is also included in the report. One prisoner convert said: "I've got loads of close brothers here. They share with you, we look out for each other." The Chief Inspector Anne Owers writes:

Many Muslim prisoners stressed the positive and rehabilitative role that Islam played in their lives, and the calm that religious observance could induce in a stressed prison environment.

The claim - made by an anonymous prison officer to BBC 5 live's Donal MacIntyre programme in March - that young inmates "were being forced to convert" in order to get "protection from a Muslim gang rather than follow the faith" is dismissed by today's report. It finds no evidence to back up any such claim.

A more compelling narrative might be that young, frightened men, arriving in jail - where physical and sexual violence are meted out to those who appear weak or vulnerable - are drawn to prisoners, as the report says, who offer "support and protection in a group with a powerful identity".

Around 30% of Muslim inmates are converts and many of those are, according to previous Home Office research, from black rather than Asian ethnic groups. In 1999, it was found that 37% of Muslim male prisoners were black compared with 7% of those in the wider population.

While less than 1% of Black Caribbeans are Muslims generally, in jail the figure is almost 19%.

These data are from before 11 September 2001 and suggest, therefore, the rise in Islamic extremism in the last nine years is not an explanation for the rise in prison conversions.

What the inspectorate also reminds us is that 11% of prisoners are Muslims - a very high proportion, since the religion represents only 3% of the population in England and Wales.

Given that close to a third of those are converts and that the Muslim community has the youngest age profile of any religious group in Britain, the figure is not as surprising as first appears.

Dr Basia Spalek, an academic at the University of Birmingham, has argued that the high levels of social and economic deprivation of the Muslim population is "linked to the kinds of offences that are processed by the criminal justice system".

It is certainly true that Muslims are more likely to be unemployed or economically inactive than those in other religious groups.

If the impression left by some coverage of today's report is that Muslim convicts have a "cushier time" in jail, the experience of the wider community is the opposite.

Comments

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  • 1. At 2:17pm on 08 Jun 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    Young, confused and vulnerable people who lack any sort of routine or positive role models in their lives being easy targets for religious conversion; now there's a surprise...

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  • 2. At 2:44pm on 08 Jun 2010, Bob Smyth wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 2:46pm on 08 Jun 2010, Dukebluenose wrote:

    Wouldn't surprise me, the civil service is full of luvvies who would bend over backwards for scum.

    It should be very simple - you get three meals a day of whatever the cheapest crap that the government can legally serve you. Everyone gets the same (except for medical reasons) regardless of religion or vegetarianism or whatever. If you want to eat your own special food then don't commit crime. Why is it that prisoners eat better than many kids and pensioners in poverty in this country.

    Every day should be 10hours hard labour (thats what I have to do, and then I get a large percentage stolen in tax) and every day you refuse to work is a day that doesn't count toward your sentance.

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  • 4. At 2:57pm on 08 Jun 2010, Brianofthecam wrote:

    I listened to this report on Radio 4 this morning. More disturbing than the apparent religious conversion figure, is the one concerning the actual numbers of Muslim prisoners. I understand the total number of all prisoners in the UK is around 80,000 so the quoted 10,000 Muslim detainees is a huge proportion. Nevertheless, we should not get confused over any religious aspects or favourable treatment – all prisoners are criminals regardless of anything else.

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  • 5. At 3:13pm on 08 Jun 2010, CComment wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 6. At 3:15pm on 08 Jun 2010, pandatank wrote:

    So the Sun cherry picks choice quotes from a Prison report, gets most of the statistics quoted completely wrong in order to get a headline which promotes an anti-muslim agenda as evidenced by the (entirely predictable) e-mail comments of their readership. This is then "picked up" by "many papers" with a similar agenda to peddle.
    I understand why you might want to "soft peddle" the actual conclusions of the report (which contrast markedly with the conclusions the Sun jumped to) and suggest a "more compelling" altenative, but why didn't you rip into the lazy/biased journalism that "created" this story in the first place?

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  • 7. At 3:35pm on 08 Jun 2010, Bob Smyth wrote:

    It would be interesting to know whether other prisoners, self-appointed imams or officially appointed imams are initiatinng these conversions to become "brothers in Islam". If it's the latter, then Anne Owers will be needing to organise the now-familiar, "wide-ranging enquiry" in the near future.

    Perhaps they have all been watching Anwar al-Awlaki's DVDs during their free time. As the "inspiration du jour" in the English-speaking Islamic world, he has been the inspiration behind many other recent converts to the "nouveau-jihadist" fraternity.

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  • 8. At 4:05pm on 08 Jun 2010, Webb of Deceit - Not606 when 606 shuts wrote:

    It shows a lack of respect for British law amongst Muslims

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  • 9. At 4:53pm on 08 Jun 2010, alison231203 wrote:

    Whether people agree with it or not Islam is the fastest growing religon. Inmates are converting because they feel a sense of belonging and feel that Islam gives them something that society does not. For many it takes them back to the core of their existence and answers alot of their questions. With time on their hands they can look a little bit deeper than the headlines. What is happening in prison is only a reflection of what is happening in society in the UK, US and other countries. Alot of emphasis is made about many converts in British prisons being black but in the UK generally the rising numbers of converts happens to be from all backgrounds. Maybe we should be asking the question why so many of the population are converting to Islam when it has been so demonised.

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  • 10. At 5:34pm on 08 Jun 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    A century ago in China these were called "rice bowl" converts. Little changes in this world. Circumstance tends to dictate ideology.

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  • 11. At 5:46pm on 08 Jun 2010, corum-populo-2010 wrote:

    Are Muslims and non-Muslims in jail, more 'organised' by language, culture and race and nothing to do with religion at all, but organise together under a convenient religious 'label'?

    Apparently, if you are white - you are not allowed to convert to Islam in prison according to some Imams?

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  • 12. At 6:55pm on 08 Jun 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    corum-populo-2010 wrote:
    Apparently, if you are white - you are not allowed to convert to Islam in prison according to some Imams?


    And Jesus was a white guy according to many Christians...

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  • 13. At 8:07pm on 08 Jun 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    Most of the blame must be laid at the door of the Prison Act 1952, which provided that members of religious groups have the same right to practice their faith as Christian prisoners.
    What’s interesting is that prisoners registering as belonging to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh faiths, have increased while those registering as Christian have decreased by 31%. I’m not sure what that means, but I do believe its significant...as though Christianity is not the best religion for prison.
    So, why are most converts coming from (mostly) Christianity to Islam?
    In most prisons, Christian chaplains have provided religious attendance. However, members of other religious groups have the same right to practise their faith as Christian prisoners; so in recent years, the provisions given to Muslim prisoners have substantially increased and improved. The Prison Service appointed a Muslim Adviser in 1999 whose work has involved a focus upon three areas:
    - Friday prayers;
    - access to Imams; and
    - halal diets.
    The Directory and Guide on Religious Practises in HM Prison Service also describes matters related to worship (writings, diet, dress, personal hygiene, etc.)
    The National Council for the Welfare of Muslim Prisoners (NCWMP), set up in 1999, consists of representatives from a number of Muslim organisations, whose responsibilites include: suggesting policy recommendations, via regular meetings with the Director General of the Prison Service; supporting the work of the Muslim Adviser; and making annual prison visits in order to assess the quality of the services provided to Muslims.
    According to the Muslim Adviser, due to staff lunch breaks, there has been a shortage of prison officers to escort Muslim inmates to and from the place of worship so that prayer times may be attended. It may also be the case that washing facilities are not available close to prayer rooms, which may also be inadequate in terms of size or location. The authenticity of halal food has also been questioned, despite official assurances. Matters arising from personal hygiene also feature significantly in Muslim prisoners’ daily lives. The Prison Service has been advised to build cubical showers so that individuals do not have to share communal showers, although in many prisons there are now curtains or modesty screens.
    A Home Office study in 2001: Ignorance over the spiritual and practical aspects of Islam by prison staff may lead to staff feeling that religious requests are a privilege rather than a necessity and may lead to the inappropriate treatment of Muslim prisoners.
    Home Office, Home Office...why is the Home Office doing so much? If the Muslim Community feels so supportive of Muslom prisoners why doesn't that community do more?
    Are we sending Muslims (and potential converts) to prison to provide religious instruction and follow religious requirements, or are we sending thewm there for punishment?
    Currently, there is little involvement by Muslim organisations in the resettlement of newly released offenders, and this contrasts significantly with the level of help provided by Christian groups, who are involved in providing ex-prisoners with wide-ranging support, including practical help in finding accommodation and work, or providing spiritual assistance where this is asked for. Muslim representative bodies and Islamic theological colleges/bodies should therefore encourage Muslim communities to help rehabilitate Muslim offenders. In one London area, Muslim offenders who are about to be released from prison are nominated a mentor from the local mosque who will provide practical and spiritual support.
    I'm no expert in this area, and I don't mean to insult anyone, but if we seperate church and state in schools with our own children, why can't we seperate church and state in prisons?

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  • 14. At 9:56pm on 08 Jun 2010, John Ellis wrote:

    hmm lets see christian assemblies in schools got banned about 20 years ago RE is slowly phased out total lack of religious belief in white society for 2 generations.
    With in prison you have those that class themselves as outcasts of society. the government etc. So when solid guidance comes along and a settled strong community expect people to join.

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  • 15. At 10:05pm on 08 Jun 2010, Jacko wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 16. At 11:00pm on 08 Jun 2010, Ralph124C41plus wrote:

    I read in the Grauniad this morning that Muslims account for more than 12% of the prison population in England and Wales. Is that right? It seems a very high figure.

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  • 17. At 11:28pm on 08 Jun 2010, Dukebluenose wrote:

    All prisoners should be treated the same - ie badly. If you want to follow your religion then don't commit crime, something all major religions, including Islam, are against.

    Unfortunately our old friend the human rights act is behind all this.

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  • 18. At 11:44pm on 08 Jun 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Jacko #15.

    "..high ranking Muslims tell us that Islam is the better religion ... Surely if their religion claims to be about peace and justice, they would obey the rule of law nomatter where they are?"

    Christians, Muslims, Jews -- same 'holy' story, same core beliefs, quarrelsome.

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  • 19. At 00:07am on 09 Jun 2010, aki wrote:

    Hi Jacko,
    [1] not all muslims live by Islam and therefore are no different from the rest of the citizens in UK. However, just having a muslim identity does bring discrimination against them, judges and police are likely to have more prejudism towards muslims, maybe give them longer, harsher sentences/punishment (criminals deserve punishments). Often poverty leads people to crime and possibly the muslim community experience a lot more of the poverty. it would be interesting to know the statistical make up the prison's muslim population.

    [2] islamaphobia is real e.g. when media and others hatred filled in their hearts distort the truth instead of providing unbiased facts and information. Islam is not about killing non-muslims! infact you may know that when the jews were being persecuted in europe they took refuge in the islamic state (ottomon khaliphate). Infact within an islamic state there is infact special protection for the lives and properties of the non-muslim citizens.

    I truly belive that muslim community can contribute more towards the society - raising the quality and standards in the wider community. It is the mosques that have not fullfilled their duties (due to having ignorant management committees).

    I hope that you will read up more on muslims and islam from muslim sources instead of taking misleading information from people who hate islam. And then use an open mind to judge.

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  • 20. At 06:51am on 09 Jun 2010, Bob Smyth wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 21. At 07:17am on 09 Jun 2010, Neil Probert wrote:

    If there are so many muslims in prison, they are obviously not following the teachings of the koran, otherwise they wouldn't be there in the first place. Convicted criminals should be stripped of 'religeous rights'.

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  • 22. At 08:20am on 09 Jun 2010, Laban Tall wrote:

    With one of Mr Easton's reports you tend to find the most important things are the things he doesn't say. We can all have a go at the Sun - not exactly the most difficult target.

    I was struck by these two sentences and their future economic implications :

    "the Muslim community has the youngest age profile of any religious group in Britain"

    "It is certainly true that Muslims are more likely to be unemployed or economically inactive than those in other religious groups".

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  • 23. At 08:36am on 09 Jun 2010, Megan wrote:

    Has anyone looked at comparative levels of recidivism between convicts who have turned to Islam whilst in gaol and other convicts without religious beliefs or those who already held them before conviction?

    What about other religions? Are those who embrace Christianity whilst in gaol faring better or worse inside or once released?

    I can see potential for several PhDs in this, and even some useful information about whether or not promoting the spread of religion within gaols would be helpful to rehabilitation.

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  • 24. At 09:38am on 09 Jun 2010, AFY123 wrote:

    #20

    In relation to Point [1]

    Unfortunately you mistaken in your presumption that Muslims have the right to disregard the law of the land in which they reside in favour of the Shariah Law. There Shariah law, according to Muslims, is only infallible within the realm of worship towards God. This is a personal matter and does not necessarily preclude a Muslim from respecting and abiding the law of the land.

    In actual fact if we take history as a point of reference, you will notice that Muslims have played a significant role in bringing about socially just laws. In the 7th century when Islam came became a dominant force, it respected the rights of Jews and Christians to be governed by their respective laws. This was a major step forward in a time that was dominated by extreme intolerance. For your reference, you should consider looking at a document called the "Charter of Privileges" which the Islamic Profit Mohammad provided protection to a Christian Institution and the rights of Christian women married to Muslim men were defined.

    Furthermore the idea that Muslims consider non-Muslims as "inferior" is also misconceived. It is pertinent to note that the Jewish Golden Age of intellectual advancement coincided with the Islamic Golden Age. Most the non-Muslim scholars of that time resided in Muslim lands because of the social freedoms that the Islamic model of governance provided.

    In respect of poverty being self inflicted, I agree that your argument carries some merit. Modern Muslim countries have not developed a system of commerce or social rights that can be compared to modern Europe. However the constant backing of despot leaders in the middle east by Western governments means that the west is not totally blame-free in this matter.

    In relation to Point [2]

    "Islam is, indeed about killing non-muslims". This is inherently wrong. May I draw your attention to the Holocaust? This was systematic genocide against the Jewish population of Europe by a European leader. We could even consider further back to the Crusades where Christian rulers banished and killed the Muslim and Jewish population of Jerusalem. On the basis of your reasoning we can also say that "Christianity is indeed about killing non-Christians" which, of course, it is not.

    Your notion is also ignorant of the fact that is Islam was spread to the wider world through commerce and missionaries much more than by the sword. This is because it provided a system of rights and a fruitful way of living in a time of ignorance. Therefore you should consider the history of Islam before you make such sweeping remarks.

    On the point of Muslim converts in prison, one point is that some people believe that the right application of the principles of Islam can bring about personal advancement in a chaotic atmosphere.

    However, given what I have said above, the way that Muslim nations and certain populations of European Muslims have treated human rights is and should be open to criticism. They cannot continually blame the establishment for what they see as "unfair discrimination" because whether Muslims like it or not, Europe is the beacon for the advancement of human rights in the modern world and treatment of Muslims under Muslim rule is, in a lot of cases, a lot less sympathetic.

    To conclude Mr Bob Smyth, I hope that this has provided some enlightenment and you decide to research thorougly before making sweeping remarks.

    There is always two sides to the story.

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  • 25. At 10:54am on 09 Jun 2010, john wrote:

    now is the time that as a country
    which respects other cultures and beliefs
    that we respect there criminal justice system
    so give them the punishment which would be delt
    in there country or send them to there country
    to serve there sentence which would help keep our prisons
    empty and respecting there beliefs

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  • 26. At 10:55am on 09 Jun 2010, jon112dk wrote:

    Adoption of Islam by some sections of the 'black' community is not new.

    In the US, prison groupings have demonstrated this phenomenon for many years. Note individuals such as John Allen Muhammad - the 'beltway sniper' - who was born John Allen Williams.

    Some argue that Christianity is not a historical religion of Africans, but associated with slavery. Adoption of Islam therefore represents a rejection of a culture imposed by the white man. This is understandable in the context of a young man who considers himself 'locked down' by the white man.

    An underlying question for both Asian or African/Caribbean communities is the choice to live in a Western country while making choices which overtly reject Western culture - arguably the equivalent of me choosing to emigrate to Saudi Arabia and then being actively hostile to Islam - and the implications of this for immigration policy.

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  • 27. At 11:23am on 09 Jun 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Megan #23.

    "I can see potential for several PhDs in this, and even some useful information about whether or not promoting the spread of religion within gaols would be helpful to rehabilitation."

    my guess is reducing poverty in the general population, and providing meaningful employment, would go a lot further in promoting "rehabilitation" than adding a belief in invisible friends.

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  • 28. At 11:32am on 09 Jun 2010, D Johnson wrote:

    They are east targets for extremism. It has nothing to do with helping the inmates who become muslims. Just getting more suicide bombers from the lower classes.

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  • 29. At 12:06pm on 09 Jun 2010, tinkertaylor wrote:

    Seems to be a few articles around from the BBC, trying to apologise for the public's perception of Muslims and acting in suprise that recent polls have found that the majority of the population are wary of Muslims and associate them with terrorism and aggression.

    Please don't feel free to apologise on my behalf.

    The last 13 years have turned me from a tolerant, amicable citizen to someone, to be quite frank, couldn't care less.

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  • 30. At 12:13pm on 09 Jun 2010, Bob Smyth wrote:

    #24

    Thank you for the kind offer of "enlightenment". In a reciprocal manner, might I respectfully also suggest a careful review of the Qur'an, hadiths and the history of Islam.

    In response to the points made.

    In relation to Point [1]

    Although Muslims clearly have no "right" right to disregard the law of the land in which they reside in favour of Shariah Law, this is clearly not accepted by a large number of Muslims in many "infidel" countries in which they they have chosen to reside. The underlying expectations are of "concessions" to Sharia norms in the event of any conflict. When these are resisted in any way, the usual response from "the community" is "offence and outrage".

    Islam is a complete way of life, not just a "religion" (as is often mistakenly believed). Of this, Sharia is an integral part. Shariah law, according to Muslims, is "Allah's law". It is considered "infallible" in all respects and in all matters and is certainly not just a "personal matter" or confined to "the realm of worship towards God".

    If, as suggested, we take history as a point of reference, then the role that Muslims have played in bringing about "socially just laws" might be considered.

    Are, for example, stonings, amputations, beatings and beheadings considered "socially just laws"? They are still being applied enthusiastically in many countries.

    The post stated, "In the 7th century when Islam came became a dominant force, it respected the rights of Jews and Christians to be governed by their respective laws. This was a major step forward in a time that was dominated by extreme intolerance".

    This "major step forward" was actually their status as "dhimmis". Any ability to be governed by their own laws was subject, at all times, to their subjugation under their Muslim masters.

    In respect of the "document called the 'Charter of Privileges' which the Islamic Profit [sic] Mohammad provided protection to a Christian Institution and the rights of Christian women married to Muslim men were defined", this needs to be considered in the context of the Qur'an and Muhammad's own examples during his lifetime. The latter, of course, being considered as examples of "the perfect man".

    Christians are "unbelievers" and their institutions are considered "idolatrous". In accordance with the Pact of Umar they must not be protected in any way. Christian women married to Muslim men are presumably "possessions of their right hand".

    In respect of the assertions that "Furthermore the idea that Muslims consider non-Muslims as "inferior" is also misconceived", perhaps this might be considered in the context of their description as "apes and pigs" in the Qur'an.

    I note the statement that:

    "In respect of poverty being self inflicted, I agree that your argument carries some merit. Modern Muslim countries have not developed a system of commerce or social rights that can be compared to modern Europe".

    It is interesting to note that, although they have had since 700AD to do so and the examples of other countries to follow, any signs of progress have been virtually non-existent. The "modern Muslim countries" are also eager to impose these discredited and flawed systems upon Europe.


    In relation to Point [2]

    I note the response to, "Islam is, indeed about killing non-muslims":

    "This is inherently wrong. May I draw your attention to the Holocaust? This was systematic genocide against the Jewish population of Europe by a European leader".

    I am unclear, is this being offered as a comparison (Muslims have killed more people in aggregate in the name of Islam and continue to do so) or as some sort of attempted justification? Hitler was also very familiar with the Ottoman/Turkish holocaust against the Armenians.

    Although it is claimed in support of Islam that, "This is because it provided a system of rights and a fruitful way of living in a time of ignorance", this must be considered in the context of who, precisely, reaped the benefits. Life as a "dhimmi" can hardly be considered to provide "rights" (when their very survival was at the whim of the local Muslim ruler).

    Regarding the statement:

    "On the point of Muslim converts in prison, one point is that some people believe that the right application of the principles of Islam can bring about personal advancement in a chaotic atmosphere".

    Total submission to an ideology certainly can provide personal advancement. The Mafia operates on the same principles. They also mandate death for those that seek to leave. The numerous similarities are astounding.

    The final point is most enlightening:

    "However, given what I have said above, the way that Muslim nations and certain populations of European Muslims have treated human rights is and should be open to criticism. They cannot continually blame the establishment for what they see as "unfair discrimination" because whether Muslims like it or not, Europe is the beacon for the advancement of human rights in the modern world and treatment of Muslims under Muslim rule is, in a lot of cases, a lot less sympathetic".

    So true, but the claims of "victim status", "unfair discrimination", etc continue unabated.

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  • 31. At 12:17pm on 09 Jun 2010, Steve wrote:

    "There is always two sides to the story."

    Actually, there are three: yours, mine and the truth.

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  • 32. At 12:39pm on 09 Jun 2010, Rumi wrote:

    "15. At 10:05pm on 08 Jun 2010, Jacko wrote:
    I have two comments that I would like to raise.."

    Jacko please note:
    1. There are good and bad muslims as there are good & bad from any other religion.

    2.Islamaphobia is quite the correct term. This Phobia has been carefully crafted by the christian west over many centuries at least from the times of the crusades. The church was particularly active in this for a long time. When people are deliberately lied to (about islam) for political and economic goals then they naturally develop the irrational fear of islam and muslims. The bright side is that since 9/11 instead of people being frightened by the Islamaphobic propganda they are more and more looking for themselves and the conversion rates in the US and Europe have increased and guess what? the proporation of women is higher!

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  • 33. At 12:58pm on 09 Jun 2010, supadupacushty wrote:

    as a muslim i feel the Sun is quite simply again picking on islam and in effect winding up the nation against islam by chery picking words like "perks". this is wrong and should not be allowed. islam is a religion can be practised very much so on your own but encouraged as a group. prayers in congragation, lectures, debates, takes, etc are encouraged. islam probably has more non solo activities than any other religion. in islam, no matter what background, colour, race, social statues etc - muslims all belong to a brotherhood. sure, this is not always apparant with in fighting and conflicts between the sects. however, i can understand how in a closed prison environment all issues are set aside and the muslims go to their core values. this will be witnessed by non muslims and ofcourse be interested. islam is not always seen as just a religion by muslims. its a way of life. islam instructs how to live life the best way. it encourages prayer and education which i imagine the prisoners do plenty of because they have time. the perception the Sun is portraying is that Muslims are criminals and get a easy ride in jail. on the contrary, a lot of these muslims prisoners would probably be bad muslims to commit the crime they committed, but since finding a lot of time on their hands and contemplating their fate - they returned to islam is jail. the reason why non whites are more likely to embrace islam is probably because their is no stigma against doing so. a hite guy will naturally be less inclined to embrace islam if the white guy next door will frown, or worseif the white guy next door is anit - islam. embracing islam is not a easy thing. their is a lot to learn and a lot of sacrifices to make. i do not think the jail "perks" outway the sacrifices required to be a muslim. its hard enough practisin g islam as you should for people born into muslim families. for non muslims converting; it will be very hard. which is why converts are looked up to. white converts will face agro from family, friends, neighbours, scoial pressures etc.


    some people on here are pretty aggressive in their comments. why? what is the big deal? islam is not a bad way of life. it is misunderstood by some and misrepresented by others. there is more than a billion muslims in this world of every nationality and background. you would think their were a billion+ terrorists in this world. every little thing about islam is twisted and blown up in the media. i mean, this particular topic - is this really headline news? is it even news or gossip? news is people dieing in this world through starvation, news is reporting on wars!.

    if we was to reserve media scrutiny and negative propaganda - i am sure there can be many many bads things to say about other religions, but that is wrong. a religion is a beleif. it is a way of life. why do some want to ridicule anothers way of life? some like indian food, some like chinese.. but you dont ridicule the other for his tastes.

    if you do your research like im sure a lot of prisoners do with the time on their hands - islam brought a lot into this world. a lot of medical, scientific, mathematical, artisitic progress was made by muslims.

    the recent economic downfall would not have happened if sharia law on economics had existed. also, by my last statement - you do not have to follow islam to think sharia law on lets say - money matters is a good thing.

    for the many negative preachers on here - islam is primarily taught by example. the best way to teach islam is being a good person/muslim and setting an example for others to see how you conduct your life. islam cannot be forced upon someone. far from it.

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  • 34. At 1:40pm on 09 Jun 2010, alternative1982 wrote:

    Jako "Quran actuallystates that a way to heaven is through the death of the non believer."
    ====

    Really? i have tried to verify what you have said but cant seem to find what you are refering to. i have found somthing which suggests the oppsite to what you are saying

    Al- Quran 5:32

    “…if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

    Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Quran says:

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  • 35. At 1:41pm on 09 Jun 2010, Megan wrote:

    27. At 11:23am on 09 Jun 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    "my guess is reducing poverty in the general population, and providing meaningful employment, would go a lot further in promoting "rehabilitation" than adding a belief in invisible friends."

    I take it you are not a person of faith yourself given the rather derogatory terminology of 'invisible friend' that you used, hence would not be aware of the positive benefits of belief... and yet I do agree with you that reducing poverty and providing meaningful employment are even more useful than encouraging religion amongst convicts.

    However rehabilitation is about changing mindsets from offending to walking the 'straight and narrow' so assisting convicts to set aside their offending ways is not just about material provisions. Naturally religion is not for everyone, but promoting the adoption of a moral compass, a more ethical approach to life, is what convicts need to help them to stay out of gaol in the future whether you do it via a religious or secular programme.

    After all many people are poor or lacking meaningful employment but do not offend. Not all of them are religious, but all do have something that causes them to behave ethically and lawfully despite circumstances that others use to excuse offending behaviour.

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  • 36. At 2:25pm on 09 Jun 2010, ziggyboy wrote:

    It just makes me wonder what right they will claim next.

    They are certainly pissing all over the justice sytem.

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  • 37. At 2:36pm on 09 Jun 2010, Bob Smyth wrote:

    #34

    The killing of unbelievers and the supposed "reward" from Allah that would accrue thereby are contained throughout the Qur'an.

    5:32 (to which you refer) is followed immediately by 5:33, which states:

    "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement".

    Of course, "waging war" and "making mischief" are construed as any resistance whatsoever to the spread or advance of Islam and Muslims.

    Then there are the following:

    [9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    and:

    [9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

    Perhaps these might help in identifying the assertion that "a way to heaven is through the death of the non believer".

    Although it might be asserted that:

    "Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place".

    This must be considered more closely. In Islam, only Muslims are considered "the best of people". "Infidels" are considered "apes and pigs". As a result, they are excluded from the apparently benign verse to which you referred.

    In fact, the mere existence of "infidels" is considered to be "waging war on Islam and Muslims" and the "believers" are exhorted to fight and kill them wherever they find them.

    The so-called "Glorious Qur'an" and hadiths require this, and more.

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  • 38. At 2:40pm on 09 Jun 2010, prexiousMary wrote:

    This sounds to me like a fair weather conversion that would soon be forgotten once free from jail and not a genuine conviction.

    Can any practicing muslim tell me - what is their view of a muslim converting to Christianity? Converts to islam is one thing and is left to the person's convictions but what about islamic converts to Christianity are they left to worship the Triune God or are they hounded in some way even to death?

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  • 39. At 2:48pm on 09 Jun 2010, prexiousMary wrote:

    34. Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Quran says:

    This is one statement I do agree with, why don't you speak out more loudly against the killing of innocents in abortion? Think of the lives to be saved, they have NO religion but human beings first right IS the right to LIFE and is sacred and should be protected from womb to tomb. the Holy Bible also says: Thou shalt not kill.

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  • 40. At 4:56pm on 09 Jun 2010, STRafi wrote:

    I agree with supadupacushty, why is this a big deal??? So what if people convert to Islam? People convert to, and have so many different beliefs in this country and around the world. If you want to know the real reason for this then there should be a study into it involving interviews with these prisoners, and ask them the reason why they chose Islam.
    It is plain to see that, alot of the times, the media makes a big deal out of anything which involves a muslim..it makes front page.
    I am a muslim woman. I would be the first to admit that there are muslims who will comit crime "in the name of god" which i believe is wrong, and misleading. Nowadays with the amount of bad publicity Islam gets, no wonder people are against the religion or the people of this religion. My religion has taught me so much which i dont think i would be the way i am today had i not been brought up in a muslim faith.
    Nothing gives anyone the right to judge a person on their beliefs. If Islam was so bad and such a violent religion then why has Islam not been attacked so badly in the thousands of years of its existence? Because the media haven't attcked it like they are now.

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  • 41. At 5:43pm on 09 Jun 2010, ashcog wrote:

    I'm sick to death of the PC brigade who have taken our once great land & turned it into a festering bog populated by persons who hate Great Brtain & wish to do us harm, or persons who wish to change the British way of life & idle swines looking for a hand out.
    What did our Grand parents fight & die for? It wasn't for this. You go to prison for punishment, it should be harsh not some club for inmates to get one over be it through religion or dietary wants. The religion of the land is Church of England, that is what should be practiced in prison. If you don't like it don't break the law or move to the place where your form of religion is practised. Try being a Christian in a Saudi prison.
    Wake up Britain we are sinking.

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  • 42. At 7:03pm on 09 Jun 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    STRafi

    I'm afraid it's just your turn to be the enemy.

    It used to be the Irish, then the Jews, then the Irish, then the Chinese, then the Irish, then the West Indians, then the Irish again and now it's the Muslims.

    The fact that the overwhelming majority of Jews, Irish, Chinese & West Indians were decent and hard working people didn't stop the press and certain sections of the public from discriminating against them and treating them all like scum.

    Many people (probably most people) know full well that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are decent and hard working people but a minority of them still succumb to paranoia and fear because certain sections of the press like to make out all Muslims are evil terrorists.

    If you can wait it out a few years there'll be Islamic themed bars all over the country and everyone will be using Eid-Ul-Adha as an excuse to take the day off work to get wasted with their friends.


    Knowledge raises the low, but ignorance brings down the mighty.
    Ali (ra)

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  • 43. At 7:10pm on 09 Jun 2010, Philip Adams wrote:

    #9 alison231203

    The assertion that 'Islam is the fastest growing religion', when used to imply that there is something uniquely positive about Islam in comparison to other religions, should be understood in the following contexts:

    (1) In Moslem societies, family sizes are typically very large by Western standards. Such large families come about as a consequence of (a) the roles expected by Islam of married men and women, and (b) poverty, in which a large number of children have utility in terms of labour. The bulk of the population in most Moslem countries - e.g. Bangladesh and Somalia - exists under crushing poverty.

    (2) Islam claims all children born to Moslem parents.

    (3) The penalty under Islam for apostacy (i.e. conversion from Islam) is death, so any person 'claimed' by Islam under (2) may not escape without the very real prospect of being killed, even by close family members. In the Moslem world, killings for apostacy are a daily occurrence, so those who wish to convert from Islam are afraid to do so, and those who have done so do not generally announce the fact.

    Given (1), (2) and (3) in combination, then, Islam may indeed be 'the fastest growing religion'. But it is not the fastest growing religion for any positive reason.

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  • 44. At 9:23pm on 09 Jun 2010, Jacko wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 45. At 9:39pm on 09 Jun 2010, im02 wrote:

    I'm not sure anyone commenting on this knows anything about muslims in prison or about the faith itself, yet somehow are commenting on this like experts.

    I work with young vulnerable muslims in prison on a voluntary basis and most of them are converts who have come to the faith for genuine reasons. They have taken the time to read and find out about the faith and what it truly stands for not what rubbish is usually in the papers. They have also been both non white and white. You should also remember that most are have very troubled lives and once they have taken a decision to convert, their families have been always supportive and have aways found the impact to be good. By the nature of being released, some do stop practicing but alot don't and continue being Muslims and finding support amongst Muslims on the outside.

    Finally - please don't think any conversions are "forced" in anyway. The Imams have their hands full with the Muslims that are already there without wanting to increase numbers. The Chaplains also have strict procedures wherby intentions to convert are throughly checked to make sure they are for genuine reasons even before an Imam gets anywhere near that young person. As a Volunteer I see no-one that is not already a muslim. There are very few "perks". I urge you to go a pay a prison a visit and find out yourselves.

    Please get your facts right.

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  • 46. At 9:40pm on 09 Jun 2010, Euforiater wrote:

    I agree that the Sun is picking on Islam, more than likely just for headlines and because it's easier to portray this point of view to its core readership.

    I have a lot of muslim friends, decent people every one of them, but since 9-11 they've had a harder time with their religion. The blame for this has surely got to be with the Islamic leaders. In the last month or so there was an article about a prominent moderate islamic cleric who issued a fatwah against terrorism saying that Islamic terrorists "will burn in hell". My question to all Islamic leaders is why has it taken so long? 9-11 is nearly nine years ago. What were you waiting for?

    To an atheist the whole thing is beyond ridiculous anyway, isn't it time the world realised we're all pretty much the same and to make progress we have to break away from irrational thought? The approach of faith schools is a concern to me because it will only divide, and above all they will not allow the teaching of evolution, the silver bullet that explains where we really come from.

    Religions always lay claim to positive things such as scientific progress but they do exactly the opposite; preventing free thought. There have been many scientific discoveries by muslims but they were not Islamic discoveries, merely discoveries by muslims who put aside their book for long enough to discover reality by the scientific method.

    Religion is often used as an excuse for war (George Bush deliberately mentioned a "crusade" after 9-11, knowing it instantly gets the popular vote).

    Please do not think I've written these things to offend, but if atheists remain silent forever we'll all slip backwards and end up in a huge religious war, fanatical belief leads to extreme action easily manipulated by those that wish. Weapons are too dangerous these days to risk such things.

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  • 47. At 9:57pm on 09 Jun 2010, im02 wrote:

    Can I also add - all this infidel stuff. Please give me a break.

    Bible, Torah, the whole lot talk about wars and killing. You can't pick quotes out of their context and try to apply some thin level of understanding over them. The Islamic faith was born out of small tribe in Arabia and now has numbers in the billions. They are not all thick blood thirsty infidel hunters after reading these verses. Rather we have been taught them in the righ context knowing full well when and why they were revealed. Non-muslims have also lived in Muslims lands in peace for 100s of years (Jews in Muslim Spain) so please please get your facts right.

    I so wish you could understand.

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  • 48. At 11:48pm on 09 Jun 2010, alternative1982 wrote:

    #37 correct, But you fail to understand/accept that as with all faiths and creeds they have a concept of war in them just like in Christianity you have the crusades.

    One must be unbiased in ones approach and understand that all the faiths set out laws on how wars should be conducted. Just like in the current climate. Wars are being conducted and they have rules. So you can’t take one verse and display it saying this is what the religion says without referring to the context it was revealed.

    If we all went on your philosophy then what would one say about Christianity when the bible states Jesus as saying:

    “And as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king--bring them in and execute them right here in front of me.'"Luke 19 verse 27

    Is that not the same?

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  • 49. At 00:58am on 10 Jun 2010, Lisa Bonnet wrote:

    It is the same in US prisons, and for the same reasons. Ignorance - both by Muslims and non-Muslims - of scripture and history.

    Ignorance of some Muslims, that it was "black" Muslim slave traders in Africa that sold slaves to "white" Christians.

    Ignorance of some Christians, that in the 18th c. some slaves were not allowed to be Christians.

    Ignorance of some Muslims, that the Qu'ran specifically says that "Jews should live in Israel".

    Ignorance of the some supporters of Israel, of the implicit conversions of Palestinian Jews to Christianity in the 1st c., and to Islam in the 7th c., that make both Palestinian and Israeli "fundamentalists" self-hating racist hypocrites.

    Ignorance of some Muslims, that the Qur'an specifically states that Jews and Christians believe in the same God they do, that the Qu'ran specifically states that not only must Jews and Christians NOT be harmed, they MUST be protected, and that ONLY God (i.e. not man) can judge Jews and Christians on judgment day.

    Ignorance of non-Muslims, in that Allah means "the God" or "the Lord" in Arabic, that dhimmi means "protected" in Arabic, and that according to the Qu'ran any Muslim who kills a "protected" person will have to answer to God on judgment day.

    Prison is a good place for a reformed criminal to either "find God" or to "return to God". However, "God" has always been used to justify evil.

    I do not doubt the piety of an innocent man, who converts to Islam out of love for the Muslim woman he marries. I doubt the piety of a convicted criminal, who converts to Islam out of hate for the Christian society that quite justifiably put him in prison.

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  • 50. At 10:34am on 10 Jun 2010, barbara99 wrote:

    couldnt we find a muslim prison in one of the many muslim countries...i for one as a taxpayer would be happy to contribute for an airplane ticket to such a muslim prison for a british muslim prisoner for example saudi arabia with whom we have such good ties with...(ha ha) and they could serve the sentence there, feel closer to the centre of islam in a spirtual way...food is halal there, and ofcourse you have the call of prayer and i bet its a cheaper option!
    couldnt we even think about it please?

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  • 51. At 11:44am on 10 Jun 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    "Muslim in prison in the U.K. are only 10% of the population, but most are in two prisons' if you say or do anything to dis-respect Islam there you will be given, a good beating happens all the time? So I was Told by an ex inmate. Maybe thats why prisoners convert to Islam?

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  • 52. At 2:15pm on 10 Jun 2010, bigsammyb wrote:

    "14. At 9:56pm on 08 Jun 2010, CommunityCriminal wrote:
    hmm lets see christian assemblies in schools got banned about 20 years ago RE is slowly phased out total lack of religious belief in white society for 2 generations.
    With in prison you have those that class themselves as outcasts of society. the government etc. So when solid guidance comes along and a settled strong community expect people to join."

    Actually it may surprise you to know that not only are christain assemblies not banned in state schools they are actually a legal requirement.

    Most secondary schools ignore this but if you look at the majority of UK primary schools they have christian assemblies and have prayers also.

    I actually find that really offensive because in a UK primary school if you are a muslim or a jew etc you are excluded from assemblies and if you are white you are assumed to be christain and so are assimilated in to the brain washing machine.

    I consider the religeous indoctrination of children to be child abuse and so i resent my taxes being used for the abuse of children.

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  • 53. At 4:24pm on 10 Jun 2010, ariellanne wrote:

    this is mona mailing from elliot lake, ontario, canada. anyone who has studied religion knows that the opportune time for religion/power people to prosyletize is when the subject is in a high state of emotion/loss/ etc. its like a sinking human will reach onto any broom handle etc. they r not going to look to see if its a protestant or catholic broom handle.
    going to prison or being confined and losing one's personal powers is very traumatizing anywhere, anytime. prisons dont work as we know. rehab works more of the time.
    the notable Karl Marx said that "religion is the comfort of the common man" they dont have many creature comforts and sense of power so they turn to this invisible being, etc.

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  • 54. At 6:33pm on 10 Jun 2010, Bobcat1967 wrote:

    Anne owers I've met her or should I say she walk past me ingoreing me to get to am inmatenot a nice woman from what I've seen, in our nick they get extra showers after lunch on a friday which cause trouble because the other inmates can't have a shower,when they are fasting they get extra food they get more than any other group.And don't get me started about PVE!!! I'd convert to get the stuff they do.But when they leave they never take the prayer books mats etc with them funny that.

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  • 55. At 06:09am on 11 Jun 2010, CharlesNorth wrote:

    Prison inmates converting to Islam is no new news,afro americans have long been seen to convert.A simple explanation such as perks seems a little to pat,males generally bond in a all male situation faster than women.From early childhood onwards we seem to need group strength and gang ranking and what stronger gang at the moment can compete with Islam! It appeals so it seems to the not so well educated and somewhat naive males and as mostly needed for some reason by us males it gives a clear 'enemy'to despise.
    Charles,germany.

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  • 56. At 11:17am on 11 Jun 2010, Graham wrote:

    All prisoners "Muslim", "Christian" or "Jewish" presumably follow the same old testament 10 Commandments. So in their zeal to follow the teachings of their faiths should not in fact be in prison, therefore there should be no need to differentiate between the different goups. There should be no need to convert because they should not be there in the first place. Simples......

    Make all prisons like Singaporian or Thai gaols:
    20+ prisoners per cell
    locked up 23 hours
    3 bowls of rice plus meagre meat and vegetables per day
    A 1/2" thick mat to sleep on

    No plasma TVs, libraries, university courses, heating above 16C, telephones, internet, concerts, religious ceremonies and on and on.

    Converting would make no difference anyway


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  • 57. At 3:52pm on 11 Jun 2010, prexiousMary wrote:

    52. At 2:15pm on 10 Jun 2010, bigsammyb I consider the religeous indoctrination of children to be child abuse and so i resent my taxes being used for the abuse of children. = Don't make me laugh!

    Child sex education, pornography and of course abortion is child abuse. Teaching the love of God and Neighbour is not child abuse! In school they are indoctrinated with the 3 Rs is that abuse too in your mind! I resent my taxes going on abortions now that is the ultimate child abuse - do you speak out against that?

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  • 58. At 9:01pm on 11 Jun 2010, securityman wrote:

    Easier life, better food. Do these lags know what Islam prison is like? Not as cushty as it is in this country. No wonder this country is skint!

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  • 59. At 9:33pm on 11 Jun 2010, Buck_Turgidson wrote:

    prexiousMary wrote:
    Child sex education, pornography and of course abortion is child abuse. Teaching the love of God and Neighbour is not child abuse! In school they are indoctrinated with the 3 Rs is that abuse too in your mind! I resent my taxes going on abortions now that is the ultimate child abuse - do you speak out against that?


    Having been taught sex education in school from age 9-18 I can categorically state that it is not child abuse, it was vital information that helped me understand the changes that were happening with my body at the time and helped prepare me for the time when I became sexually active in a way that has helped me stay infection and child free.

    Pornography, legal pornography anyway, can only be made using adult performers and crew, can only be sold by adults in adult only stores too other adults.
    As none of the process from inception, production, sale, distribution and consumption involve children then that is also quite clearly not child abuse either.

    Bringing an unwanted child into the world is far worse than aborting a foetus. It's not a nice procedure and I'd prefer it if more people took responsibility over contraceptives but even if we eliminated all of the unwanted pregnancies there will always be a need for abortion on health grounds, either to save the life of the mother or to prevent the birth of a child who would have a short, painful and miserable life if taken to full term due to a known medical condition.

    The Three R's aren't indoctrination because there aren't different interpretations of the basis of reading, writing and arithmetic.
    There are many different ways to learn how to read, write and add up but ultimately they're all teaching you the same thing because our language is well defined (even if it is ever changing), as are the laws that govern it and the basic laws of maths do not change depending on the cultural setting.

    Religious or spiritual beliefs are a very different matter, there are an almost infinite number of religious and spiritual systems of belief and a persons beliefs make up a large part of their individual identity.
    No child can possibly understand the complexities of religion, or their implications and no child is born into a religion.
    It could therefore be easily argued that teaching a child that they are a specific religion and imposing a religious belief system and structure onto their personal identity before they're mentally able to fully grasp what this means is child abuse.

    I'm not saying it is or isn't as I've yet to decide this one for myself but the argument supporting bigsammyb's comment is quite a convincing one.

    I am a little biased on this one though as when I was a child my parents always told me that my religious beliefs were something that I had to decide for myself. They encouraged me to look into all of the different faiths and to make up my own mind based on what I thought best. As a result I'm not a follower of any one single religion but I have found that while they all differ they all have the same messages and lessons at their centre that are far more important than the dogma and ritual that surrounds them.

    Although thinking about it, this is probably what the religious are afraid of. If everyone tried to understand the core message instead of getting carried away over the rituals and traditions then maybe we'd all realise that we're all the same people looking for the same things; Peace, Happiness and Love, and once we realised that we'd all stop arguing over silly things we use to define ourselves by and these institutions would lose their influence in the world.

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  • 60. At 11:05am on 12 Jun 2010, bigsammyb wrote:

    "57. At 3:52pm on 11 Jun 2010, prexiousMary wrote:
    52. At 2:15pm on 10 Jun 2010, bigsammyb I consider the religeous indoctrination of children to be child abuse and so i resent my taxes being used for the abuse of children. = Don't make me laugh!

    Child sex education, pornography and of course abortion is child abuse. Teaching the love of God and Neighbour is not child abuse! In school they are indoctrinated with the 3 Rs is that abuse too in your mind! I resent my taxes going on abortions now that is the ultimate child abuse - do you speak out against that?"


    Ah abortion. Okay well as has been stated abortion isn't very nice and for sure i would prefer people to take contraceptives and make sure unwanted pregnancies never happen. But they do and when this happens it is better to abort than bring a unwanted child in to the world.

    Also as far as i am concerned morally there is very little difference between abortion and cleaning yourself up after masturbating or a woman haveing her period. They are merely cells the fact they have stuck together for a tiny period of time does not make them any different in my mind. However having had a girlfriend abort a baby before i know emotionally it isn't very nice.

    When it comes to religeon being imposed on a child it is very much abuse.

    Give me ANY child to the age of seven i could make them believe anything i wanted them to believe be it in christ, allah, thor, odin, fairies at the bottom of the garden or the flying spaghetti monster.

    You know my grandmother used to tell my uncle that that if you eat three bannans it would kill you.

    One day at the age of 18 he was at work and saw a workmate peeling his third bannana.

    My uncle shouted:-

    "STOP! Eating three bannas will kill you"

    So you see once you have indoctrinated a child in to beliveing somthing they will go through their entire adult life believing it. Fortunatley somthing as mild as 'three bannas can kill you' is somthing education can fix, religeon however because it is based on fear of judgement after death can not so easily be remedied.

    We ALL indoctrinate children we teach them moral understanding and culture, right down to opinions on lots of matters. IT is our duty to try and encourage our children to break their programing as early as possible and seek there own view uninhibited by past indoctrination and most do over time. For instance my parents were quite homophobic and i was as a youngster but over time i have made homosexual friends (plutonically!) and i see nothing wrong with that.

    Religeon is not so easily removed. If every child in the world had parents that did not brain wash them then religeon would disappear over night. Afterall no sane adult who had never heard of religeon would believe in a talking snake and that the earth is only 4000 years old.

    We do not talk about labour children, conservative children, pro animal rights children, soldier children etc we just talk about children. Lets keep it this way and lets extend that to religeon.

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  • 61. At 3:03pm on 12 Jun 2010, brazilwatcher wrote:

    I wouldn't treat them any differently from the other prisoners and that includes food. Bacon & pork sausages should be a cumpulsory part of their diet!

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  • 62. At 10:25am on 13 Jun 2010, Samab Ahmad wrote:

    Why Islam as a religion is a bad choice. Fanatics are everywhere why always Islam is blamed. The truth is that Islam as a religion teaches respect others, no alcohol (unsocial behavioural problems), halal meaning eat food and give your appreciation to the God for providing this food, don't charge interest if you help someone financially, respect law, pray five times does anyone wonder what is Muslim prayer (meaning). It will be a good idea to google the translation of a Muslim prayer.

    You will realise that Islam is a beautiful religion but today's media is portraying it's wrong Jihad i's version. Jihad is not about blowing yourself up to kill innocent people. The true meaning of Jihad is to fight any harmful obstacles in your and others daily life to become a good citizen. For-example study, stay away from bad habits (alcohol, drugs, sex), help others financially and morally, defend your country (it is the country where you live doesn't matter if it is Muslim country or Non-Muslim), stand-up against injustice.
    If jail in-mates are embracing Islam then I hope it is for the true Islamic religion not for the media portrayed version. You are all responsible for your actions being Muslim you will be judged by your actions on the judgement day. Islam says that People rights are more important than God rights therefore help your community and respect Law.

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  • 63. At 2:22pm on 13 Jun 2010, Qutuz wrote:

    Quiet amusing to see how and read how jealous most of the british public are about "their own" converting to islam. Fact is Islam offers these people a better way of life rather than the one of alcoholism, adultery, drugs and rock & roll. The fact that most of you are Sun readers explains your mentally deficient and racist opinions.

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  • 64. At 3:23pm on 13 Jun 2010, barbara99 wrote:

    @samab ali ahmad - you have given us a very good explaination as to how you perceive islam. please consider taking on those who behave in some of the abhorrent ways all in the name of islam.

    its no go good trying to preach to fairly moderate, civil societies such as the one we, here in the UK choose to live in

    you really need to tackle those chaps (and ladies) who view the west as their enemies...and as a british born asian...i get pretty disapointed by all the muslims who protest so fervountly that their faith is peaceful but atually take no steps towards that themselves: here are my suggestions for you:

    1)gather all those peaceful muslims who wish to live in harmony with the wider world and let their neighbour live with whatever faith/non faith they have (this will probably be a mountaineous)
    2)go and reeducate a peaceful islam across all those countries where there are issues...make afghanistan and pakistan and believe it or not parts of leeds, bradford, manchester, ilford, woking your first ports of call.

    3)publicly denounce all those are not prepared to live in peace. i would have thought it was your duty...have you ever thought that perhaps it isnt the west thats to blame for problems with regards to islam but infact the extremeists...why are you taking them on??? because i have a feeling that no matter what those bearded chaps from the afghan mountains do its really ok...as they are the brotherhood!!!!

    be brave, be true, i didnt say it was going to be easy...

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  • 65. At 5:17pm on 13 Jun 2010, MrWonderfulReality wrote:

    One factor is that due to most of the worlds heroin production being in Asia there is a significant number of muslims who are directly involved with heroin, either supplying or even using it which may be one reason why there are such high percentage numbers of muslims/Asians in prison.

    Afganistan and Pakistan are the 2 main countrys which supply heroin to the world, (90% UN figures)most of it originates in Afganistan but is transported via Pakistan, so much for high ethical values of these muslim drug runners and producers who are supposidly devoted to Allah and the teachings of the Koran.

    In prisons in the UK, heroin is easily available so it is very easily another reason why some may convert to another religion especially if it includes improved access to heroin in prison.

    It is FAR FAR from the truth to suggest that those in prison with religious beliefs are good moral law abiding and religion abiding people, MOST ARE NOT, which is why they are in prison in the first instance.

    The population numbers in prison who attend religious meetings muslim or including christian church on Sundays etc, would leave you to presume that because of their devotion to religion they would turn clean when released.

    This is totally a non-reality and is proven in the numbers of re-offenders.

    If you were in prison, why might you decide to convert to Islam? A "cushier life" and "nicer grub", according to the Sun this morning.

    I suggest that conversion to Islam in prison most probably has more links to access to heroin than "nicer grub".

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  • 66. At 6:14pm on 13 Jun 2010, bestoftherest wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 67. At 7:44pm on 13 Jun 2010, mike wrote:

    all you people who are telling us how wonderful islam is are obviously deluding themselves, im not very clever but even i can see that 12000 muslims have broken the law, and these days you have to be a mass murderer to even get put away, try facing the truth !!!

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  • 68. At 11:26pm on 13 Jun 2010, killerdalek wrote:

    This does not surprise me. Almost anyone stupid enough to end up in prision is likely to be credulous enough to fall for some kind of religion. What sickens me, is the way Islamists are given such an easy ride in there. Anyway, prison is supposed to reform people, and the system can hardly claim that, when people come out of it burdened by supersitious mediaeval beliefs!

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  • 69. At 12:33pm on 14 Jun 2010, Jacko wrote:

    I wrote the following in comment 44.

    "I am impressed however, that people on this site are allowing this type of debate without the trotting out of the do good brigades racist labelling and rants. In this day and age it is refreshing that some people seem able to discuss without resorting to personal insults or categorisation"

    And then, along came Qutuz in comment 63 and dashed my illusion. You have done yourself and your religion no benefit by your comments, in fact you have probably managed to reinforce peoples perception of your faith.

    As a point of reference, I have never read the Sun, but came onto this blog via the BBC News website, as I suspect, a number of the people on here have.

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  • 70. At 4:32pm on 14 Jun 2010, Philip Adams wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 71. At 00:24am on 15 Jun 2010, NorthernQuaker wrote:

    Would these so called muslims (lol) get the same treatment in an Islamic country,they know how to treat criminals.

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  • 72. At 09:42am on 15 Jun 2010, fastbowler wrote:

    So much angst and microscopic analysis in the posts about this topic! May I throw a bucket of water over this dissemination and just point out that prison terms are meted out to those found guilty of transgressions against the laws of our land? A criminal is a criminal, no matter what their ethnic or religious background. A prison is no place to open debates or discriminate between inmates according to their beliefs, whether established by birth or recently and conveniently acquired.

    A prison is society’s temporary storage facility for those whose criminal or anti-social activities merited a punishment of custodial proportions – or those whose freedom would threaten the wellbeing of society in general. Either way, prison is a “one size fits all” solution to deal with our civilization’s miscreants and should have no truck with special diets, deity worship or special privileges.

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  • 73. At 3:50pm on 15 Jun 2010, natasha edstrom wrote:

    '61. At 3:03pm on 12 Jun 2010, brazilwatcher wrote:
    I wouldn't treat them any differently from the other prisoners and that includes food. Bacon & pork sausages should be a cumpulsory part of their diet!'

    Why? Why on earth would you make someone eat food that is against their religion? Cruel and inhuman punishment springs to mind, and blatant Islamophobia. Let's hope you don't work in the prison service.

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  • 74. At 3:05pm on 17 Jun 2010, Jacko wrote:

    #71. Yet another missuse of the word "Islamaphobia". A phobia is an irrational fear, the post at #61 is nothing to do with fear but intolerance. So please stop trotting out this word every time someone complains or resents Islam.

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  • 75. At 6:30pm on 17 Jun 2010, Graphis wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 76. At 07:52am on 22 Jun 2010, Aaron wrote:

    I don't understand why anyone cares whether they are muslim or non-muslim. They are criminals and are in Jail, that's all that matters. Their religion wont make a difference if they commit another crime, they're back in prison.

    Talk about trying grab headlines and selling a story.

    Nicer Grub whats that supposed to mean? Are they implying that halal meat tastes different than non-halal meat???

    Although physical and sexual assault is viewed stereotypically by the public as a normal part of Jail life, legally it is not. If a Muslim identity affords protection from being the victim of such attack then so be it. What the person believes is an entirely different matter. None the less, it should not be the case, that an inmate should identify with a particular group to be afforded a normal prison lifestyle. This designates a flaw in enforcement in the British prison system.

    If that's all what the inmates are looking for - that is, "nicer grub" and protection - the British public shouldn't worry about it. The inmates will go back to their old ways and forget Islam as soon as they're released.

    As well British public will not have to worry about Islamic values of honesty, and deviance from crime, affecting the criminals in the prison system.

    as for radicalism and extremism, the prison employs the Muslim chaplains who can identify such tendencies, but if more action is needed to curb such elements then so be it.

    There is no need for sensational headlines that are quite pathetic.

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  • 77. At 11:01am on 10 Jul 2010, Samab Ahmad wrote:

    @barbara99 - Islam is all about peace and we don't need preaching as we all aware of it. Please check your history how many innocent people have lost their lives in the hand of Muslims as compare to any other religion. Once you got the figure including first world war and also 2nd world war you will know it. Even Iraq war the crimes committed there are unjustifiable. I believe force is not the solution equality is, it brings harmony to all. Anger can only destroy things never repair society. We have to live as good citizens without any hate and anger. Trust me



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  • 78. At 11:36am on 10 Jul 2010, barbara99 wrote:

    @77
    Samab Ali i know Islam really really well and sadly its riddled with alot of contradictions...theres islamic peace and if you are not willing to live by its order then theres the sword to convince you.

    sure along long time ago there were peaceful muslims about....but not anymore...sadly the kind of islam practised now is forceful, aggressive, judgmental, lacking in tolerance of any other of Gods people.

    the day of judgement comes when muslims turn on each other and are willing to kill other muslims....isnt that whats happening in pakistan????

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  • 79. At 11:55pm on 28 Jul 2010, Samab Ahmad wrote:

    @barbara99
    There are bad people everywhere they exist in all religions some of them are priests or can be just followers. Our aim should be to correct ourselves and leave rest to others. If everyone can do that there will be no need for preaching.
    I think the core problem is education. With education you learn better ways to live and understand life. There are people dying of hunger but at the same time how much is going to waste. I am sure it is more than what is required to save those poor people from any religion. We might be spending billions on animals food and not even 1% of that is being used for needy people. There are lot of things wrong here and hope we all can see that and try to amend it as we see it.

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  • 80. At 6:31pm on 10 Sep 2010, Euforiater wrote:

    Samab Ali, you seem like a moderate muslim, what's your viewpoint on this Koran-burning issue? Would it offend you personally or do you see it as a "storm-in-a-teacup"? I'd guess that the vast majority of muslims will not be too concerned but it would be interesting to know.

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  • 81. At 5:03pm on 18 Sep 2010, peevedoff wrote:

    Because they are dumb,stupid,illiterate,want to fit in.But atleast they have a future.Not a very long one i will grant you once the explosive vest goes off you morons.Good luck with that.

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  • 82. At 5:15pm on 18 Sep 2010, peevedoff wrote:

    Well written words Samab Ali and quite correct.If all were like you things would be fine but i sympathise with you when you also are labelled as undesirable and evil because of more than a few brainwashed,naive individuals.Youve got to ask yourself.....entering the Kingdom of Heaven to be greeted by a bunch of virgins to cater for all your heavenly desires if you blow yourself up on a tube train.....no matter how brainwashed, i find it remarkable that even the most extreme believe that rubbish.In this country we would be considered totally insane and locked up for believing that.

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  • 83. At 11:37pm on 27 Sep 2010, Samab Ahmad wrote:

    @Euforiater Sorry for the late reply, I thought this article was done and dusted. Coming back to your question, Good thing it never happened because it would have instigated a lot of up-rise against West because of one psycho who wanted publicity. It would have destroyed lives in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran or even in India. They would have carried rallies and destroyed infrastructure costing the countries millions for this stupid act. Burning Koran or killing people is not a solution to this hatred.

    We should know our limits and freedom of speech should come under this banner. There are some things which is beyond freedom of speech for instance if I use abusive words towards your mother or any other family member, I think it will not be freedom of speech but an insult to yourself and towards your family. We Muslims feel our religion is more respectful than our family members. So I would feel insulted.

    Please bear in mind it is same if anyone insult Jesus or Muslims call him Hadrat Isa (AS). Muslims will feel very disgusted with this gesture. I feel that we should not use any abusive words or our wrong actions against anything which is sacred to some or all. It is definitely not freedom of speech. I hope that answers your question.

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  • 84. At 11:42pm on 27 Sep 2010, Samab Ahmad wrote:

    @peevedoff There are many people who are poor and doing this for money and and as you said there are many who are brainwashed. I would also like to add there are many who are forced to do it and there are many who would like to do it for personal reasons (revenge). (Suicide Attacks)



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  • 85. At 1:55pm on 03 Oct 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    "There are only two muslim prisons' in the U.K. where this happens? The prison service know the names very well, if you show disrecept on they holy day {friday} to islam you will be beaten up!!! no western music, is allowed or eating pork, a few inmates have become muslims by bullying ? or brain washing? but the perks are good!!!

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  • 86. At 10:16pm on 07 Oct 2010, Euforiater wrote:

    Hi Samab Ali, same apologies for my late reply (this could go on). I agree with your view on the would-be Koran burner, (who to my mind has started the whole controversy to try and drum up more regular worshippers for his business - a failing church). Book-burning is always an action taken by the ignorant and intolerant. However the public demonstrations look to me like a bit of an over-reaction to what was simply the planned combustion of printed paper; the Koran will always be around and destroying a few copies will not change this. It doesn't have to have any effect on a muslim if he or she chooses to ignore it, and if they did ignore it, there would be no reason for it to happen again.

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  • 88. At 7:41pm on 08 Feb 2011, cupon12 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 89. At 1:05pm on 12 Feb 2011, tezza wrote:

    Anyone converting to ANY religion, in or out of prison, is a sign that our social, scientific & education systems have failed dismally.

    All religion is poison and divides far more than it unites...even factions within specific religions hate each other more than they hate the non believers.

    As far as prisons are concerned, food should be the same for everyone (unless for medical reasons) religious claptrap etc should not be recognised in this regard...after all who is footing the bill? There are far too many law abiding citizens who eat and live less well.

    Speaking of bills and religion....if religious crackpots want to provide 'ministering' services in prison..ok, but the state (as it does now) shouldn't be picking up the bill for the wages of these travelling 'witch doctors', sanctimonious vicars and rabble rousers - let the religion concerned cough up for it.

    It's high time the religions offered proof (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the junk they are spouting is true, accurate and honest before ANY tax payers money is handed to them for any activity they are meddling in...while we're at it sack the unelected bishops in the Lords and save even more money.

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  • 90. At 1:42pm on 16 Feb 2011, cupon12 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 91. At 04:13am on 21 Feb 2011, ssluigi wrote:

    It is very interesting to hear that prisoners convert to Islam for some kind of "benefits". On top of people wanting to convert for material goods it really does make sense for many people to convert because of protection. I think it would be an attractive choice even just to have a circle of people to communicate with in a more trusting manner as well as embracing beliefs together to help us through jail time.

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  • 92. At 11:48am on 25 Feb 2011, gaiden2 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 93. At 6:06pm on 28 Feb 2011, Jackysoom wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 94. At 11:57am on 01 Mar 2011, shamima wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 96. At 11:17am on 04 Mar 2011, U14803467 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 97. At 11:20am on 09 Mar 2011, Liaang wrote:

    Very Great Conversation, I absolutely liked reading everything that is written on your blog. Keep the information coming.

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  • 98. At 10:05pm on 10 Mar 2011, Eamon Sloan wrote:

    There is only one thing I can say about this issue and that is "hmmm...." alongside "right...." or "a bucket of salt" with perhaps a side order of "I express doubt"

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  • 99. At 10:36pm on 20 Mar 2011, Peterex wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 101. At 10:46am on 23 Mar 2011, U14782776 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 102. At 11:45am on 30 Mar 2011, Katie Gray wrote:

    It's just a matter of human instinct. When people need to be protected they will do anything they can. Becoming to be an islam for food , for protection or for anything else still be good. Just wonder, what is other choice when you stay in prison? Nothing but waiting for time go day by day. Being Islam can be really good if it lead some to do better things.

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  • 103. At 8:21pm on 17 Apr 2011, enomer wrote:

    Hmm..A "cushier life" and "nicer grub" . I don´t think so, we have to get these young guys to think straigt. I was attending a seminar the other day called [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]. It was covering just these questions. Very intrestering subject indeed.

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  • 104. At 06:06am on 25 Apr 2011, Jeffrey Melman wrote:

    The initial claim that most Muslim conversions in prison are "forced conversions," is one based on ignorance. The person who made this allegation was likely not familiar with Islam as a faith, and was basing his viewpoint on a wider, mistaken perception that Islam is a religion prone to violence. As I recently argued, ignorance such as this lies at the root of most cases of religious intolerance. But alas, we all fall victim to this sort of thinking on occasion. We assume that we know about something because we hear about it in the media, but we don't truly understand it. If a person takes the time to really study Islam, they will learn that forced conversions have never been part of the genuine Islamic tradition.

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  • 105. At 09:50am on 25 Apr 2011, pharmas wrote:

    It is so interesting to see these kinds of behaviors taking place. I have never considered being in a situation like this and am really curious what kinds of decisions I would make.

    While I am not a religious person I could really see myself wanting to belong with a protective and hopefully supportive group to help me deal with the risky environment. Under normal circumstances becoming part of a religion is a life change I have tried and did not suit me although in this case I could see how practising Islam would be a positive choice.

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  • 106. At 5:39pm on 25 Apr 2011, oilking wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 107. At 8:57pm on 28 Apr 2011, Woolfbane wrote:

    Just goes to show, if you're daft enough to end up in prison, you'll believe anything!

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  • 109. At 08:54am on 14 May 2011, johnsonj9211 wrote:

    pl z not that it is Muslim & Christians who are fighting actually in name of religion !Hindus are just resisting them and answering their atrocities.[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 110. At 09:02am on 18 May 2011, Testbells wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 111. At 09:07am on 18 May 2011, Testbells wrote:

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  • 112. At 09:48am on 27 May 2011, paulenator wrote:

    This is really an incredible story. I think if I were in the same situation I would want to support of a common group. Especially if there is any pressure to convert or even worse harassment for not converting.

    While I have not personally been in a situation like this I have a pretty good feeling that most people would seriously consider conversion. Very interesting to read about the inner workings of prison.

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  • 113. At 08:17am on 29 May 2011, Scanship wrote:

    Conversion to Islam relieves those unable to think for themselves a supply a ready-made “umma” of brothers answers all questions and discourages you from thinking and has it ever occurred to prison authorities that perhaps the "calm" they claim comes from conversion to Islam might be better obtained through conversion to Christianity? Why is there no interest in providing the obvious alternative - much better in every conceivable sense to Islam? And if the halal food is better, then for god's sake improve the non-halal food, and make sure that it is of a much higher quality than the halal food, in order to prevent that from being, as it apparently is, part of the reason for people of no great intellect to convert to Islam. Make non-Muslim meals; make non-Muslim existences, easier so as to take away this instrument of Da'wa. For god's sake, use your heads.

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  • 114. At 00:38am on 01 Jun 2011, smithhogg wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 115. At 11:19am on 04 Jun 2011, Brian wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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