Security officials from several European countries have developed a manual to help prison authorities prevent their jailhouses from becoming incubators for Muslim extremists. The manual, developed by France, Germany and Austria, includes signs that may indicate that a prisoner was becoming radicalized, including the presence of a growing beard. A prison group feared the manual could stigmatize Muslim inmates. The document was distributed at a two-day closed-door conference of European security experts that ended Wednesday. It will be given to prison personnel. Prisons “can be a facilitator and an accelerator” of radicalization and inmates are often “strongly destabilized” and therefore malleable, said Christophe Chaboud, head of France’s Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit.
“It is not a question of religion but of confrontation with the West,” Chaboud said in a telephone interview. Islam is the second-largest religion in France and, while there are no official figures available, Muslims make up a large part of the inmate population — the majority in some prisons.
A disproportionate number of Muslims can be found in prisons in other European Union countries.
France, working with EU partners, found they shared problems of Muslim radicalization in prisons, Chaboud said. U.S. officials are also concerned about the potential for radicalization in their prisons. Elaine Ganley reports.
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