Psychologists in the Prison Service will try to ‘cure’ extremist Muslim inmates of their political beliefs with controversial therapies similar to those used to ‘de-programme’ members of religious cults.
The experimental treatments are being developed by a special Extremism Unit set up by the Ministry of Justice in January last year, The Mail on Sunday has discovered. Sources say the therapy forms part of a wide-ranging strategy to combat Islamic extremism in Britain’s jails. There are 90 Muslim prisoners serving time for terrorist offences, and the Ministry fears that, if left unchallenged, their violent, jihadist interpretation of Islam will spread. About 11 per cent of prisoners are Muslim – three-and-a-half times the proportion in the UK population. In maximum security ‘Category A’ jails such as Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire – the subject today of an exclusive report in Live magazine based on unprecedented access to both prisoners and staff – they make up 35 per cent of the inmates, and have converted numerous other prisoners to Islam. In Whitemoor the 150 Muslim inmates include 39 who have converted in the jail since early last year. In some cases, officers believe converts have been subjected to bullying and changed their faith because they felt vulnerable. A Ministry source said that to be a Muslim in jail was now seen as ‘cool’, and while Muslim prisoners once felt isolated and vulnerable, they were now ‘flexing their muscles’. This made it all the more important to ensure that extremist views did not spread. David Rose reports.
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