Muslim gangs in UK jails are forcing prisoners to convert to Islam with threats and beatings, according to a new Ministry of Justice report.
“The tactic they use is to befriend someone when they come in. If they don’t convert, they will then start spreading rumours about them, that the person is a snitch (informer), so that they will be ostracised. Then the beatings follow,” said a non-Muslim inmate.
Song was kicked out by a Muslim imam who had taken over as head chaplain and disapproved of the pastor’s Christian courses.
“If someone is secular and in prison and they want to lead a peaceful life in prison they need to become Muslim. That way they are protected,” said Song, who was later reinstated.
“Some people have been forced to convert with violence. How do I know? Because three or four people come up to me and tell me,” the pastor added.
The gangs were a well-organised menace with “clearly defined roles including leaders, recruiters, enforcers, followers and foot soldiers”, the 2019 UK government report states.
“Violence, bullying and intimidation were prevalent with the gangs, using religion as an excuse to victimise others,” it adds.
Jailed terrorists were often gang leaders and prisoners who learned passages of the Koran were promoted in the ranks. Money was generated by “taxing” inmates, the report states.
“If I said I didn’t want to be a Muslim, I’d need to watch out just in case someone stabbed me,” said another prisoner.
The report explained that many Muslims became part of a so-called Muslim “brotherhood” when they entered jail, but this was separate from the gangs, and joined for various reasons such as a vulnerable inmate wanting to make friends or prisoners wanting to share their faith.
There were 13,008 Muslim prisoners in England and Wales at the end of March 2019, about 15% of the total jail population, according to British newspaper The Times. As of March 2018, 48% of prisoners were listed as identifying as Christian, according to a House of Commons paper.
The details of interviews with 83 male prisoners and 73 staff at three of eight high-security prisons in England, which are not named, were carried in the ministry’s report.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org