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Friday, November 09, 2007 

How I stopped worrying about the Muslims...

The "lyrical terrorist" and her rhymes of doom.

Those Muslims. They're a worry, aren't they? We worry about them integrating. We worry about the books they read. We worry about the religious premises they attend. We worry about the library stock dedicated to their religion. We worry about offending them. We worry about how some of them talk in funny languages called "Arabic" and "Urdu", whatever they are. We worry about what they're thinking. We worry about whether some of them are AS WE SPEAK plotting our demise, brainwashing children, and writing poems about the joys of beheading infidels. We worry about whether the anti-terrorist legislation which is clearly targeted at "them" is tough enough; the home secretary doesn't know how much longer the pre-charge detention limit should be, but she does know that it isn't long enough.

To add to all of these existential problems and threats, the Sun today cheerfully informs us of another problem with Muslims. Apparently, the numbers of Muslims behind bars has risen by 120%. This undoubtedly means that BRITAIN'S jails risk becoming breeding grounds for Islamic extremists:

Figures obtained by The Sun show there are 8,000 Muslims in our jails – up from just 3,700 in 1997.

And the number of Muslim inmates – from both Britain and abroad – is growing FOUR TIMES faster than the prison population as a whole.

The Sun appears to be adding two and two together and getting five. The simple fact that there are more Muslim prisoners doesn't mean that we're suddenly going to have jails full of radicalised young men. The conditions might be right in prison for radicalisation - but those who tend to find themselves serving time usually don't fall into the same demographic categories as those who have previously taken part in terrorist plots: overwhelmingly decently educated, reasonably prosperous and who have either done their own research or met like-minded individuals online.

The paper relies on the general secretary of the Prison Officers' Union for the actual evidence:

Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said his members were struggling to cope.

He said: “We have already seen how shoe-bomber Richard Reid was converted and radicalised in prison. We don’t want that being repeated. We have a massive lack of language skills. Very few officers can speak Urdu or Arabic, which means prisoners could be doing or saying anything.”

If we're going to be pedantic about it, Reid converted to Islam while he was in a young offenders' institution. Whether he was radicalised there is something in dispute - Feltham has had a number of imams suspended over fears they were anti-American or radical - but Reid also undoubtedly spent time at Finsbury Park mosque during Abu Hamza's tenure.

This itself poses a problem with the Sun's alertness. Reid was a petty criminal before he entered Feltham, and although his father encouraged him to learn about Islam, he most certainly wasn't religious prior to entering the YOI. Is it those who don't already have their own interpretation of Islam when they're imprisoned we should worry about, or those with little information on it?

As with everything else, it's worth getting this into perspective. According to the prison service, there are currently 130 prisoners being held under terrorist legislation - even if all of them are Muslims, that's an incredibly low percentage of the total currently imprisoned, and they're also spread out throughout the prison system, for the exact reason that keeping them altogether, ala the Maze in Northern Ireland is only storing up even further problems for the future.

It is however indicative of how we're either increasingly afraid of or meant to see the very fact that someone is a Muslim as a potential problem. The Tories added their concern to the Sun's article:

Shadow justice secretary Nick Herbert said: “Officers are right to warn about the challenge posed by a large number of Muslim inmates.”

Shouldn't we be similarly concerned about the challenge posed by a large number of inmates full stop? The prison system, as the Sun falls over itself to tell us, is at breaking point. Overcrowded prisons makes it near to impossible for any real rehabilitation to take place; prisoners are increasingly banged up in cells for longer periods of time, making those vulnerable to the advances of their cell-mates, whatever their religion or otherwise. The projections that up to 1,600 terrorists could be behind bars in ten years' time shouldn't be surprising when we're imprisoning those such as Atif Siddique for 8 years
(Abu Hamza got 7 years). Who knows how long the "lyrical terrorist" will receive?

The Scum's leader inevitably takes it all up a notch (the actual page seems to have since disappeared into the ether, replaced by tomorrow's leader, so you'll have to trust me on what it says):

Jihad jails

BRITAIN’S bulging prisons are being turned into hothouse training and recruiting posts for Islamic terror.

For which there is no evidence whatsoever.

Overworked warders live in fear of bullying minorities who form gangs and run their own jail culture.

And why are they overworked? Because the Sun and others keep demanding that sentences become ever tougher while demanding more prisons that unsurprisingly no one wants in their backyard. Prisons are full of gangs and their own cliques, it's not as if that's anything new.

The officers dare not enter prayer meetings held in a foreign language.

Nobody knows for sure whether imams are preaching from the Koran or an al-Qaeda manual. But we can be certain their message is not peace and goodwill to all men.

Again, does the Sun have any evidence whatsoever to back this up? Of course it doesn't. In fact, prison imams have been receiving special training to help identify those who might be falling victim to radicalisation. Imams have often got the blame in its pages when few other than Hamza have had a direct hand in radicalising those who have gone on to take part in attacks. If they made such a blanket statement about prison chaplains they'd rightly get smacked down for such a generalisation with no evidence.

As we reveal today, one inmate allegedly launched his terrorist career after studying jihad in Wandsworth prison library.

The article says nothing of the sort (click "more" to see it.). It says that he had a single document on jihad which he obtained while in prison. Al Figari is one of those currently on trial for taking part in the "paintball jihad".

MI5 chief Jonathan Evans this week warned the number of radicalised Muslims has more than doubled in a year, with thousands more yet to be identified.

No he didn't. He said that the numbers of those who pose a "direct threat to national security and public safety, because of their support for terrorism" had increased by 400 from 1,600. How much stall you want to put by such figures is up to you.

Now we know where they are coming from.

The question is — why aren’t we sending them home?

Probably because most of them are already British citizens. And so the "fear" dial is turned up yet another point.

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Take a bow, Mr S.

Ace. Linking you now.

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