newsflash

 


Preachers found to be distributing extremist literature including homophobic and misogynistic leaflets

  • MoJ-appointed imams 'routinely distribute extremist literature' in prisons

  • Leaked report found hate pamphlets and CDs in more than 10 jails

  • Review ordered by Michael Gove but not cleared for publication yet

  • It was led by former prison governor and Home Office official Ian Acheson

  • Muslims make up 14.5 per cent of inmates in prisons across the UK 

  • Majority of British imams are trained in the conservative Deobandi tradition

By TAMMY HUGHES FOR THE DAILY MAIL and HUGO GYE FOR MAILONLINE

A review of extremism in British prisons found hate literature in more than 10 jails in November (file picture)

Muslim preachers approved by the Government are routinely distributing extremist literature in British prisons leaving hundreds of inmates at risks of radicalisation, a leaked report has found.

The extremist review, ordered by Michael Gove last year, found extremist CDs and pamphlets in more than 10 jails in November, it was reported today.

Inspectors also found hate tracts encouraging the murder of apostates, misogynistic and homophobic leaflets and extreme Islamic literature preaching contempt for British society.

The report is said to have sparked panic among officials who are worried about being seen to have lost control of jails - but ministers have not yet approved its publication. 

A review of extremism in British prisons found hate literature in more than 10 jails in November (file picture)

A leaked version of the review, which began in September under former prison governor and Home Office mandarin Ian Acheson, was published by The Times today. 

The findings are understood to have sparked an urgent internal alert because of the risk of ‘severe reputational damage’ to the Ministry of Justice.

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There was evidence that a large number of clerics were from the Deobandi sect, which traditionally promotes conservative anti-British ideology.

A website promoting the Deobandi movement says loyalty is owed only to the global brotherhood of Muslims while integration into British society is denounced.

HOW CONSERVATIVE SECT HAS BECOME THE MOST POPULAR IN UK

The Deobandi sect was founded 150 years ago in south Asia and Deobandi seminaries produce 80 per cent of UK-trained Islamic clerics.

The movement takes its name from the town of Deoband in northern India, but has spread around the world thanks to the movement of populations.

Leaders in the sect tend to promote a conservative interpretation of Islam, although they have also spoken out against violent extremism in the past.

One Deobandi scholar, Masood Azhar, drew adoring crowds on a visit to Britain in the 1990s where he urged young people to 'prepare for jihad', and is now wanted for his involvement in a deadly attack on an Indian military base.

A website promoting the Deobandi sect says loyalty is owed only to the global brotherhood of Muslims while integration into British society is denounced.

It states that to befriend a non-Muslim risks pollution while those considering marrying a Christian or Jew are warned that their ‘repulsive qualities will filter into Muslim homes’.

It adds that a woman’s place is in the home and urges Muslims to reject unIslamic acts such as music, singing, dancing, watching television, playing chess, reading novels watching drama and watching football.

But Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms), has praised the movement saying that its teachings support 'fundamental British values such as democracy, individual liberty and mutual respect'.

Chaplains at several of the prisons, who are appointed by the Ministry of Justice, were found to be encouraging inmates to raise funds for Islamic charities linked to international terrorism.

And a lack of scrutiny and weak corporate guidance meant that there was little or no assessment of the suitability of materials or the effect they would have on ‘impressionable minds’.

A Whitehall source said that the material was kept in prison chaplaincy rooms and was available for anyone to come in and pick it up. 

Prisons in England and Wales held 12,328 Muslim inmates at the start of this year, of which 131 were convicted terrorists. A further 1,000 were deemed vulnerable to radicalisation. 

Muslims make up 4.8 per cent of the population but make up 14.5 per cent of inmates in UK prisons. Many criminals are said to convert in jail in order to gain the protection of Muslim gangs.

The review also found that many of the chaplains were not prepared for counter-radicalisation work, which was 'sometimes because they lacked the capability but often because they don’t have the will'.

Imams also seemed to be unaware that they had a statutory duty to try and stop people from becoming terrorists.

Of the 200 full time and part time Muslim chaplains, some of which are on salaries of up to £40,000, 70 per cent were taught in Deobandi institutions.

There was also evidence that imams from other sects felt marginalised and bullied by those their Deobandi colleagues.

The review was ordered by Michael Gove, pictured, last year but has not yet been cleared for publication

The review was ordered by Michael Gove, pictured, last year but has not yet been cleared for publication

Last year the former counter-terror boss Chris Phillips warned that staff shortages in prisons were making it harder to tackle Islamic radicalisation because extremists were not properly monitored. 

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary at the time, rejected the claim.

The Prison Officer Association also said last year that Islamist extremists were attempting to radicalise prisoners by deliberately getting custodial sentences or gaining jobs in jails.

And last month, a top barrister told the Old Bailey that there was pressure to 'conform to certain religious views' in the high-security prison Belmarsh because of the power wielded by radical Muslim inmates.

A report on HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire found that half of all inmates were claiming to be followers of Islam, after being intimidated into converting by high-profile Muslim prisoners. 

The Times reported that the ministry is awaiting clearance from No 10 to publish the report which includes 69 separate recommendations.

It is believed to have been critical of corporate weaknesses within Noms.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: 'We don't comment on leaked documents.' 

How prisoners are converting to Islam 'in order to join Muslim gangs and secure special privileges'

Convert: Milly Dowler's killer Levi Bellfield has adopted Islam and uses the name Yusuf Rahim

Convert: Milly Dowler's killer Levi Bellfield has adopted Islam and uses the name Yusuf Rahim

More than one in seven prisoners in British jails is now a Muslim, far more than the faith's popularity in the population as a whole.

The reason for the disproportionately high number is believed to be down to non-Muslim inmates converting to Islam once they go into prison.

Levi Bellfield, the killer of Milly Dowler, is perhaps the best-known criminal to have become a Muslim in jail, and now goes under the name Yusuf Rahim.

Prison sources have accused him of only turning to the religion to get special privileges, such as halal food and extra time out of his cell in order to pray.

The Officers' Association union has previously claimed that there are a large number of so-called 'convenience Muslims' who adopt the faith because they want to game the system.

Six months ago, a report found that HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire was the first prison where half the inmates on the main wing are Muslims.

Watchdogs said: 'Some prisoners and staff found the Muslim presence overwhelming. The social and religious fragmentation within Whitemoor potentially posed risks for discipline and hence safety.'

Prisoners claimed they came under extreme pressure to convert to Islam, and even non-Muslims were effectively banned from cooking pork because of opposition from Muslim gangs.

In March, an Old Bailey trial was told that guards at Belmarsh had 'lost control' of Muslim gangs which intimidated others into conforming.

'There's a degree of fear as to the need to conform to certain religious views in Belmarsh,' barrister Rupert Pardoe said.

 


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