We’re run­ning scared of the jail ex­trem­ists

The Mail on Sunday - - Comment -

BRI­TAIN’S lead­ers like to make tough noises about how they are stand­ing up to Is­lamist ex­trem­ism in our midst. But the as­ton­ish­ing ac­count we re­veal to­day, from one of the coun­try’s big­gest pris­ons, sug­gests that in prac­tice they find it eas­ier to give in than to fight.

Not only are Is­lamist fa­nat­ics in Brix­ton al­lowed to form dan­ger­ous and in­tim­i­dat­ing gangs – a di­rect chal­lenge to the au­thor­ity of the prison staff. Re­volt­ing ex­pres­sions of sym­pa­thy for ji­hadi killers are tol­er­ated, in­clud­ing praise for sui­cide bombers and for the mur­der­ers of the sol­dier Lee Rigby.

Mean­while, openly racist jibes by ex­trem­ist pris­on­ers against a ded­i­cated Chris­tian chap­lain, Paul Song – who is Korean by birth – ap­pear to have been ig­nored. Worse, he him­self was sub­jected to un­jus­ti­fied dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

This dis­grace is a symp­tom of the deep prob­lem of our un­der-staffed pris­ons, where of­fi­cers have been forced to cede far too much con­trol to in­mates.

But there is an even more se­ri­ous and far more spe­cific scan­dal as well. Pas­tor Song’s ac­count of his or­deal shows a fright­en­ing readi­ness by the Jus­tice Min­istry to shy away from a nec­es­sary con­fronta­tion with open mil­i­tancy. Are they afraid?

Of course Mus­lim pris­on­ers should have ac­cess to their own clergy, to proper places to pray and to ha­lal food. A civilised so­ci­ety must treat prison in­mates with ba­sic hu­man­ity, and must en­sure they do not suf­fer from prej­u­dice.

But it is of no help to sin­cere Mus­lims, who wish to follow their re­li­gion in a peace­ful, tol­er­ant fash­ion, to leave them in the midst of an­gry fa­nat­ics, or to al­low the de­vel­op­ment of specif­i­cally Is­lamist gangs within prison walls. On the con­trary, such cow­ardly ne­glect hurts Mus­lims and hurts Is­lam too.

And if, as a so­ci­ety, we have set our faces against big­otry, then we should make sure that we stamp out all of it, not just se­lec­tive in­stances of it. In­tol­er­ance of Chris­tian­ity, and nasty racial ep­i­thets used by one mi­nor­ity against an­other, are just as bad as any other out­break of ha­tred and ill-man­ners.

Pris­ons, un­der the to­tal con­trol of the State, are se­vere but real tests of what that State is truly like. They are also largely hid­den from the pub­lic eye. Thanks to this ex­po­sure, we can see how very badly we have gone wrong.

Min­is­ters must make sure it is put right with­out de­lay.

First class hypocrisy

THE self- styled ‘ Class War’ ac­tivist Ian Bone made pol­i­tics per­sonal when he in­ex­cus­ably at­tacked To­ryMP Ja­cob Rees-Mogg in front of his young chil­dren.

So he can­not com­plain at the qui­etly dev­as­tat­ing re­buke he has now re­ceived from his own daugh­ter, who doesn’t think much of his par­ent­ing. Let us hope he learns from it that his opin­ions do not au­to­mat­i­cally make him su­pe­rior to those who dis­agree with him. It is time he stopped go­ing round de­spis­ing oth­ers.

Plenty of Left-wingers suf­fer from the odd delu­sion that their opin­ions make them bet­ter than their op­po­nents. They should take a good hard look at them­selves. The dig­ni­fied be­hav­iour of Mr Rees-Mogg, his fam­ily and their nanny, strongly sug­gests that Right-wingers are in fact nicer than leftists.

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