Muslim prison chaplains to be standardized

Following an agreement reached between the justice minister, Claudia Bandion-Ortner and the president of the Islamic Religious Community, Anas Schakfeh, Muslim chaplains in prisons are to be standardized across the country. At around 1300 Muslim inmates, Islam has come to represent the second largest religion in Austrian penal institutions. Earlier religious services had been the result of local and regional cooperation, which meant regular visits by Muslim chaplains had been limited to ten prisons. The goal of the agreement is that such regular visits be possible in all prisons where a demand exists.

The agreement also lays out a number of minimum standards for the chaplains and conditions for the prisons visits. This includes a high school diploma; good knowledge of German, in order to hold religious services in German; and basic knowledge of the prison system, so as to ensure an optimal balance between safety and religious practice.

In the press release, Bandion-Ortner stressed the importance of the chaplain’s assistance in the resocialization of inmates, while Schakfeh expressed his happiness that an important step had been taken towards the broader institutionalization of Muslim prison chaplains.

Danish government wants to de-radicalize imprisoned terrorists

Danish imams could soon be teaching Muslims convicted of terror-related activities that terror is not acceptable and doesn’t belong in Islam. The Danish government is at the moment considering the method of letting imams help resocializing imprisoned Muslim terrorists – a method which has proved effective in Saudi Arabia. The Danish imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen finds the initiative very positive and says: “The suggestion is on par with the Danish tradition where a penalty is often combined with resocialization”.

At the moment seven Danes are imprisoned for planning terror. At least two of them will soon be released.