An imam advised the prison chaplain that a “toned-down” wooden cross would be less offensive to Muslim prisoners. “Prison chapel not to have a crucifix,” by Tom Whitehead for the Telegraph, December 15:
A new prison chapel has been stopped from having a crucifix in case it offends Muslims.
The multi-faith room at HMP Lewes will have footbaths installed so Muslim inmates can wash their feet before prayers.
For Christians, however, there will now only be a plain wooden cross and a portable altar which can be removed if other faiths are using the room.
The new Â£200,000 development at the East Sussex jail has been designed as a multi-faith room with the space split into two.
One side is dedicated to Christian worship and the other is for other faiths in the 485 inmate category B jail.
But a spokeswoman from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) revealed the traditional Christian crucifix depicting Jesus nailed to the cross will not be used.
After discussions between the prison chaplain and Muslim imam it was agreed a toned-down wooden cross would be used instead of a crucifix.
Zsa Roggendorff, chair of the nearby Ford HMP IMB, could not understand why the crucifix has been taken out of the chapel.
She said: “At Ford we have a multi-faith chapel and all are prisoners are allowed to use it.
“We still have our cross and we have the altar. All the other faiths have got their own special rooms in huts to use which are part of the main prison.”
A portable alter will also be used at HMP Lewes so it can be removed when it is not needed while footbaths have been installed so Muslim inmates can wash their feet before prayers.
Amanda Hamblin, chair of the Lewes IMB, said: “We see this as a vastly improved facility and very much welcome the fact that the prison has an imam…