Wednesday, June 9, 2010
British prison inmates turn to Islam to enjoy perks
UK prison inmates are increasingly embracing Islam to entitle themselves to the protection of the fearsome Muslim gangs, apart from availing 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", and relish halal meat, which is provided only to Muslims. The number of Muslim prisoners has risen dramatically since the mid-1990s — from 2,513 in 1994, or 5% 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.