How jihadis hijacked my Bible class in jail, yelling support for the killers of Lee Rigby
ISLAMIC militants hijacked a prison chaplain’s Bible classes and physically assaulted and abused him because of his Christian faith.
Pastor Paul Song today describes how he had been left in a state of near-constant fear after Muslim gangs, acting with impunity, came to dominate Brixton Prison in South London.
He told The Mail on Sunday of one chilling incident when a small group stormed his gathering in the prison chapel and began loudly praising the jihadis who hacked soldier Lee Rigby to death in the street.
To the disbelief of Mr Song and his Bible group, the interlopers insisted that hacking to death the 25-year-old soldier was justified since, in their eyes, it avenged the killing of Muslims by British Armed Forces.
When Mr Song calmly tried to argue back, he was shouted down, as he was when his classes were similarly disrupted on numerous other occasions.
‘To do this in a place of worship was obscene,’ he says.
Mr Song describes how a hardline element grew increasingly powerful, threatening vulnerable inmates and telling them to convert to Islam for their own protection.
The pastor said that many of his fellow volunteer chaplains were driven out through intimidation, too: ‘My colleagues couldn’t take any more,’ he said.
‘My classes were often disrupted. At times inmates openly spoke in the chapel in support of Islamic State and suicide bombers and there was nothing I could do about it... They spoke with such hatred of Britain that it was frightening.’
On another occasion, Mr Song, who was born in South Korea, says he was racially abused, jeered and hit on the back. It left him afraid of lingering anywhere in the prison which was not covered by CCTV.
Despite this menacing atmosphere, it was Mr Song who ended up being accused of extremism. An imam took over as Brixton’s head chaplain and stopped the pastor running his mainstream evangelical courses because, he said, some of the material was too ‘radical’.
Mr Song’s disturbing account of life inside Brixton Prison comes at a time of growing crisis in the prison service, struggling with overcrowding and staff shortages.
In the past nine months, four jails have been described as ‘failing’. And on Friday thousands of prison officers walked out for six hours in protest at ‘unprecedented’ levels of violence.
UK Justice Secretary David Gauke said: ‘The level of violence is unacceptably high and we’re determined to bring it down.’
Mr Song’s time in Brixton came to an end in August last year when he was suddenly barred from the prison to which he had given 19 years service. It was claimed he called an inmate a ‘terrorist’ and behaved threateningly towards the imam, which he strongly denied
Now, 12 months on and after initially being denied a fair hearing, he has been cleared and reinstated. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre, which took up his case, said calling him an extremist ‘defied belief’. She added: ‘It is wonderful to see justice done.’
Mr Song said that he had begun to feel the pressure soon after imam Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed was appointed as head chaplain in 2015.
He said ‘the imam’s discriminatory agenda became clear from the outset’, when he began scrutinising the material used in the Bible classes, claiming it was ‘too radical’ and that the Christian views expressed were ‘extreme’.
‘They are mainstream courses used by churches throughout the world,’ said Mr Song.
‘He said he wanted to “change the Christian domination” within the prison.’
Mr Song agreed to stop running his classes, although he continued to work with individual prisoners.
‘The imam said I couldn’t use the chapel, so I held a prayer meeting in a cell, but the imam got to hear about it and was furious.
‘He is very big, physically intimidating and he kept urging me to just leave.
‘I thought about it, but I also thought: “Why should I give in?”’
‘He was very big and kept urging me to leave’
VICTIMISED: Pastor Paul Song feared for his safety in Brixton Prison – before being kicked out