“Many of the men don’t like the idea of the Christian ‘turning the other cheek.’ Islam emphasizes self-defense as an ethic, so they prefer that.” Not to mention going on the offensive, plundering your enemy, and enslaving women and children: perhaps they “prefer that” too”? Boys-will-be-boys alert.
“One in 10 inmates behind bars turns to Islam,” by Krista J. Kapralos for the Herald Net, February 1:
Many embrace faith to help ease the desperation of prison.[…]
A movement that began in the 1970s under Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to evangelize inmates has evolved into one of the most effective religious rehabilitation agendas in the U.S. Imams under the Nation of Islam continue to draw converts, but most Muslims in prison today are Sunnis [thanks to Wahhabi funded missions], said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who has studied Muslim prison ministries.
Mamiya estimates that about 10 percent of all prison inmates have converted to Islam. Using his estimate, about 1,800 of the state’s 18,000 inmates would be Muslim.
About 1 percent of Washington [state] residents claim to be Muslim, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That’s the same as the national average.
For most men behind bars, their conversion is temporary. Just one in five who convert to Islam while in prison continue on in that faith once they are released, Mamiya said.
That makes experts wonder whether “Prison Islam” isn’t a religious movement but a convenient infrastructure for a prison gang that affords members special privileges, including rugs and sticks of incense for their cells.
Chaplains who supervise Muslim services say most men are genuine in their faith.
As of August, Muslim inmates in Washington prisons have received halal meals, said John Barnes, a chaplain at McNeil Island Corrections Center. That change came after a rash of lawsuits nationwide by Muslim prisoners who claimed that they were given vegetarian meals instead of meat slaughtered as required by Islamic law.[…]
A 2006 report by George Washington University and the University of Virginia found that tight-knit communities of Muslims in prison are ripe for radicalization, and could easily become terrorist cells. A shortage of trained, federally approved imams has left openings for prisoners themselves to lead Muslim congregations, without supervision through chaplain programs.
A Monroe inmate acts as full-time imam for Muslims in the prison. He declined to be interviewed for this story.
Most of the inmates who convert to Islam are African-American, and are attracted to Islam for its discipline and belief in equality, said Faheem Siddiq, a longtime planner for the city of Everett who has acted as a Muslim chaplain in state prisons for more than five years.
“In Washington state, from Walla Walla to McNeil Island, the majority of these guys are low-income African-American converts who have an opportunity in a sober environment to try to reflect and change their lives,” Siddiq said. “Islam offers them that opportunity.”
Terrorist plots have been hatched in prisons, but that is a problem largely in Europe, where many Muslim prisoners are of Middle Eastern or Arab descent, Mamiya said.
“With African-Americans, it’s very different,” Mamiya said. “They have their own problems they want to concentrate on.”
Muslim communities in prisons also provide some of the same benefits of gangs, Mamiya said. They protect one another, but they don’t “demand extortion in order to be initiated,” he said.
Yes, that notorious tribal quality of Islam — you’re either friend or foe, nothing in between.
“Many of the men don’t like the idea of the Christian ‘turning the other cheek,’ ” Mamiya said. “Islam emphasizes self-defense as an ethic, so they prefer that.”
There is also a strong sense of responsibility and discipline.
“In Christianity, Jesus Christ died for sins,” Taylor said. “But in Islam, there’s no scapegoat. I can’t say that the devil made me do it.”
Sure you can; that’s the whole Satanic Verses episode: after proclaiming that Allah had goddesses for daughters, Muhammad went on to insist that Satan put those blasphemous words in his mouth, i.e., “the devil made me do it.” And what’s good enough for the prophet is obviously good enough for his followers.