Prisoners are under pressure to convert to an Islamic “gang” at a high-security jail, with non-Muslims in fear of violence just for cooking bacon, according to an official report.
By Martin Beckford, Home Affairs Editor
7:00AM BST 30 May 2012
Inmates at HMP Whitemoor told researchers commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that they changed their faith for protection or because they were bullied into it.
Prison guards said they had a policy of “appeasement” towards the powerful and growing Islamic population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.
Non-believers avoided confrontation with any Muslim in case it led to retribution from the wider group, and said they even avoided cooking pork or bacon in communal kitchens or undressing in the showers in case it caused offence.
The report, written by researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “Conflict and tension existed between and within faith groups.
“There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population, who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith. Many physically powerful prisoners ‘re-established their outside identities’ as leaders in the prison and used their (newly acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing influence.