UK prisoners embracing Islam to enjoy Muslim perks

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London, June 8 (ANI): A peculiar trend has been observed among UK prison inmates who are increasingly embracing Islam to entitle themselves to the protection of the fearsome Muslim gangs, apart from other benefits available only to Muslim prisoners as per prison regulations.

The new breed of converts have been dubbed "convenience Muslims" since they enjoy exemption from work and education while attending "Friday prayers", they also relish halal meat, which is provided only to the Muslims and is seen as an improvement over what is usually available and it is these perks that are their primary motivation.

The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s - from 2,513 in 1994, or 5 per cent of the population, to 9,795 in 2008, or 11 per cent. Staff at top-security prisons and youth jails have raised concerns about the intimidation of non-Muslims and possible forced conversions.

Notwithstanding the "perks" enjoyed by Muslim prisoners, it has been revealed in a report that Muslim prisoners tended to report more negatively on their prison experience and were also more likely to fear for their own safety or complain of problems in their relations with staff. In high-security prisons, three-quarters of Muslims said they felt unsafe.

Dame Anne Owers, author of a report titled Muslim Prisoners' Experiences, cautions that the prison staff's propensity to stereotype all Muslim prisoners, as "terrorists" is dangerous as this would alienate normal Muslims and might result in their radicalization.

Dame Anne said that unless staff engaged effectively with them there was "a real risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy: that the prison experience will create or entrench alienation and disaffection, so that prisons release into the community young men who are more likely to offend, or even embrace extremism," The times quoted the report, as saying. (ANI)

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