Nija Vaishakh Krushna Ekadashi, Kaliyug Varsha 5112
A substantial number of prisoners in UK jails have converted to Islam to gain the advantages of being part of powerful Muslim gangs including special food and time-out for Friday prayers in jails, reported UK-based Times Online.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers, in her report titled 'Muslim Prisoner's Experiences, said the number of Muslim prisoners had risen from 2,513 in 1994 to 9,795 in 2008 -- a rise of 6 percent in 14 years.
However, Dame Anne has warned that the rise in conversion was a worrying fact as "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".
She has suggested that the staffers of jails must be proactive with the prisoners to arrest the rise in conversions.
According to the report, several high-profile terrorists were jailed recently but less than 1 in 100 Muslim inmates were convicted of terrorism. The reason is, she says, prison staffers are suspicious about Muslims but treating Muslim inmates as potential or actual extremists risks could amount to radicalism.
"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. This was in marked contrast to the suspicion that religious observance, and particularly conversion or reversion, tended to produce among staff," the report said.
Prison staff of high-security jails fear non-Muslims may also have been converted forcibly.
Among the special benefits of being a Muslim includes halal menu, a menu that is considered better than the usual meals. Also, Muslims are exempted from work during Friday prayers.
The report quoted a prisoner saying: "Food good too, initially this is what converted me."
Another reason for conversions among convicts is that Muslim gangs are powerful.
One inmate quoted in the report said: "I've got loads of close brothers here. They share with you, we look out for each other."
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