Australia

Convert to Islam or get beaten up: Muslim Australian prisoners


By Lia Harris and James Phelps, The Telegraph


Islamic supremacism and domination from the Islamic State to the prisons in Australia to the asylum centers in Europe.

NON-Muslim jail inmates are being forced to convert to Islam by fellow prisoners using threats and violence against those who refuse.

A Muslim chaplain at Kariong jail on the Central Coast has been inundated with requests for extra prayer mats and copies of the Koran from more than a dozen non-Arab ­inmates, according to prison sources.

They also asked to be put on halal diets, which means eating meat slaughtered by a Muslim in the traditional manner.

The situation was exposed after several prisoners approached guards after a number of inmates were ­beaten up for refusing to convert. Three Muslim inmates believed to have been responsible for the forced conversions were then moved to separate jails.

Sources said the inmates had ­requested an imam visit the jail to ­officially endorse the conversions but one was unable to attend before the offending prisoners were moved.

Recruitment of non-Muslims into the religion is also rife at Lithgow jail, with dozens of inmates making the switch, another source said.

However, the consequences of ­reverting can be brutal, with one ­inmate being stabbed by fellow Muslims after shaving off his traditional beard for a parole hearing.

A department of Corrective Services spokesman confirmed at least six inmates had converted to Islam at Lithgow in the past six months.

He also confirmed that Goulburn jail now had a dedicated yard for Middle Eastern prisoners, but denied claims by prison sources that it had been introduced for the safety of non-Muslim prisoners.


Faheem Lodhi

Faheem Lodhi was recently moved out of Goulburn’s Supermax section and into the general prison population. Picture: Lindsay Moller

 


However, the consequences of ­reverting can be brutal, with one ­inmate being stabbed by fellow Muslims after shaving off his traditional beard for a parole hearing.

A department of Corrective Services spokesman confirmed at least six inmates had converted to Islam at Lithgow in the past six months.

He also confirmed that Goulburn jail now had a dedicated yard for Middle Eastern prisoners, but denied claims by prison sources that it had been introduced for the safety of non-Muslim prisoners.

Goulburn Jail now had a dedicated yard for Middle Eastern prisoners.

Two convicted terrorists were ­recently moved out of Goulburn’s Supermax section and into the general prison population after having their security classifications downgraded.

One of them is Faheem Lodhi, who was jailed after the Supreme Court found him guilty of plotting to blow up the electricity grid in 2003.

Public Service Association Corrections branch chairman Steve McMahon said the forced conversions to Islam were “very concerning” and “most likely extremist-related”.

“The Muslims in jail are not ­upstanding citizens, unlike many of their colleagues who are upstanding citizens and don’t believe in violence,” Mr McMahon said.

“These people are clearly doing it for some reasons other than their devotion to the faith and it is concerning in light of how dangerous some of these individuals have become.

“We’ve been witnessing a level of recruitment for many years now, primarily among indigenous inmates, but now we’re seeing younger ­inmates being targeted and conver-ted and we’re seeing some fairly concerning behaviour from some of those inmates.”

A month ago The Sunday Telegraph revealed teenage jihadi inmate Bourhan Hraichie attacked his cellmate Michael O’Keefe when the pair were mistakenly put in the same cell at Kempsey jail on April 7. The teen extremist allegedly choked the former army reservist, whipped him with a cord, poured boiling water over his face and carved the letters E4E — meaning “eye for an eye” — into his forehead.

“In order to survive in jail you’ve got to be part of a group ­because individuals don’t survive.”

Senior prison sources said the ­attack lasted more than 20 minutes, despite O’Keefe’s cries for help, ­because Hraichie and his followers warned prisoners they would “cop the same treatment” if they used the emergency intercoms in their cells to alert guards.

Mr McMahon said the department needed to keep track of Muslim inmates recruiting inside jails as well as prisoners who had been converted.

“I don’t believe enough is being done to catalogue and track who is being converted, and certainly not enough is being done to equip officers with the skills they need to manage what I see as a major emerging problem in NSW,” he said.

University of Western Sydney Bachelor of Policing co-ordinator Michael Kennedy, who specialises in radicalisation, said prisoners were an easy target.

“In order to survive in jail you’ve got to be part of a group ­because individuals don’t survive,” Dr Kennedy said.

“The best thing for anyone who speaks Arabic to do is to get in with a group of believers and they will be your strength and they will mean that you survive.

“Forced conversion to Islam in NSW prisons is not common.”

Goulburn Jail now had a dedicated yard for Middle Eastern prisoners.
Goulburn Jail now had a dedicated yard for Middle Eastern prisoners.

“The majority of extremists are uneducated and they’re doing it because they have to believe in something. There’s a whole range of problems and it needs constant surveillance and monitoring.”

Dr Kennedy said the majority of prisoners who converted to Islam in jail would likely give the religion up once released.

A Corrective Services spokesman said the number of Muslim inmates at Kariong jail had increased because “the type of inmate had changed”.

He denied that the three inmates who were moved to other jails were forcing other inmates to convert.

“The three inmates you refer to were removed from Kariong to other correctional centres after an altercation that had nothing to do with ­religion,” the spokesman said.

“There have been about six conversions to Islam at Lithgow Correctional Centre in the past six months. Forced conversion to Islam in NSW prisons is not common.”

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