We’re running scared of the jail extremists
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.