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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"We know that prisons are a massive incubator for radicalization." Who would have guessed?

"We know that prisons are a massive incubator for radicalization." Who would have guessed? (TonyblairFaithFoundation).

In order to successfully address the issues of prison radicalization in Europe, we must understand the nature and scale of the problem across the continent, writes Mubaraz Ahmed.

Today, countries across Europe are dealing with the growing threat of radicalization. While much has been made of ISIS' sophisticated recruitment techniques on social media platforms, prisons are a far more potent breeding ground for the proliferation of extremist views.

Isolation from the outside world, a perceived sense of victimization, the need for belonging, a sense of vulnerability, and prolonged exposure to radical individuals, are all contributing factors for prison radicalization.

The spread of extreme Islamist ideologies in European prisons is a concern to governments. 

Understanding the distinction between Islam, or any other religion, and extremist ideologies that use the religion for promoting violence and hatred is crucial in tackling prison radicalization. Increases in religiosity can help prisoners to be rehabilitated. Clampdowns on religious activity generally has the potential to antagonize religious prisoners and fuel radicalization.

The environment in prisons is closed, and the surroundings and situation prompt different ways for expressing resistance and dissent. Even the state of imprisonment itself is used as a tool for radicalization, with radicalizers presenting incarceration as society's rejection of an individual and what they stand for, building a perceived sense of victimization that catalyses an extreme ideology.

In the case of Muslim prisoners, radical preachers who look to forge an 'us versus them' mentality present a perceived systematic persecution of Muslims by Western countries and portraying the individuals' incarceration as a symptom of society's disdain for them.

The European Union's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, said in January 2015 that "We know that prisons are a massive incubator for radicalisation," going on to say that rehabilitation and deradicalisation efforts were far more effective means for countering extremism, rather than imprisoning people.

With the number of those returning from fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria continuing to rise, there is a strong possibility that prisons will soon be housing an unprecedented number of individuals with known extremist views. Hmmm.......The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, the faithful our soldiers and The prisons our madrases. Read the full report here.

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