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why do people convert to islam in prison

She said the "blanket security-led" approach, which focuses only on tackling Muslim extremism and not individual or faith needs, means the prisoners are more likely to reoffend or embrace extremism once back in the community. However, prison staff fear some prisoners are being forced to convert to Islam by radical inmates while other Muslims are being pressured to adopt a more extreme version of the faith, the report revealed. The thematic report examined the experiences of Muslims while in jail and found 30 per cent of 164 Muslim interviewed had converted while inside. Dame Anne said there are two separate approaches to managing the needs of Muslims in prison, one is to look at their diversity, particular needs and potential discrimination while the other "focuses solely on Muslims as potential or actual extremists".

She said: "At present, the latter approach appears to be better resourced, better understood and more prevalent. It would be naive to deny that there are, within the prison population, Muslims who hold radical extremist views, or who may be attracted to them for a variety of reasons. "But that does not argue for a blanket security-led approach to Muslim prisoners in general. The National Offender Management Service must develop a strategy, with support and training, for effective staff engagement with Muslims as individual prisoners with specific risks and needs, rather than as part of a separate and troubling group.

Without that, there is a real risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy: that the prison experience will create or entrench alienation and disaffection, so that prisons release into the community young men who are more likely to offend, or even embrace extremism. The report found: "Staff at one high security prison believed that some Muslim gangs put pressure on non-Muslims to convert and on Muslims to conform to a strict and extreme interpretation of Islam. "
It said staff "appeared reluctant" to challenge inappropriate behaviour leaving a perception that Muslim prisoners "policed themselves".

There were similar concerns of potentially pressured conversions in some young offenders institutions. However, the report said it found no evidence to back up any of the claims of forced conversions. The report also found an over-representation of black prisoners turning to Islam 65 per cent of those interviewed. It found no reason for the high levels but said some prisoners said it was "causing unease among staff already struggling to understand and respond to extremism".

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