From the NYT:
French prisons have become a breeding ground for Islamist extremism partly because they mistreat the Islamic faith.
By FARHAD KHOSROKHAVAR JAN. 25, 2015
… Muslims account for about 7-10 percent of France’s total population but around half of its prison population of 68,000. Muslims are even more numerous in facilities near large cities, particularly in maisons d’arrêt, which hold prisoners serving shorter sentences.
I’ve just had an insight into why Muslims are even more concentrated in prisons near big cities in France: as Willie Sutton might have said, because that’s where the Muslims are.
Precise figures are unavailable because laïcité, France’s strict form of secularism, prohibits officially asking and collecting data about people’s religious preferences.
Different European countries have different ideologies and different policies for dealing with low-end Muslims. Here’s an article I wrote 11 years ago on the four different approaches. Yet the results are all about the same.
Many Muslims feel marginalized when they get to prison, due to exclusion and bigotry from the white majority in mainstream society, and their own counterracism.
“Counterracism” is intended to imply that racism by Muslims is, like everything else, the fault of whites. The problem is that it still has “racism” in it. Maybe the recent massacres in Paris could instead be attributed to “collateral social justice.”
Although in urban prisons they are a majority, they continue to feel victimized and trapped.
Well, trapped is kind of the point of prison, isn’t it?
Very few guards are Muslim, and prison officials, who tend to be hypersecular, have little understanding of Islam, for example confusing fundamentalism with extremism.
“Look at how a Catholic or a Jew is treated, and look at how we are treated,” Abdelkarim, a Frenchman of Italian origin in his late 20s who was serving a five-year sentence for armed robbery, told me in 2012.
Abdelkarim is an armed robber, by the way.
“They have their weekly prayers; in this prison we don’t have Friday prayers. Their rabbi can go to all the cells; our Muslim minister cannot. There’s kosher food, but no halal meat. They despise us, and they call that laïcité.”
In fact, Muslim ministers can visit Muslim inmates in their cells but usually don’t do it for lack of time, and halal meat is increasingly available.
It’s almost as if violent criminals aren’t the most unbiased sources of information.
But such misperceptions are common, and they only reinforce the appeal of Islam as the religion of choice for the stigmatized and the oppressed. Unlike Christianity, it has an anti-Western and anti-imperialist bend.
… Adherence to radical Islam is largely the transfer into the spiritual realm of that particular combination of indignation, rancor and wholesale rejection encompassed by the expression, widespread among prisoners, “avoir la haine” (to have hate).
Islam’s good at that.
For some inmates, especially those who were only nominally Muslim and nonpracticing, violent aspirations emerge first, with religiosity — and often a very approximate understanding of Islam — grafting itself onto to them later.
Clearly, the first thing to do is to import more Muslim immigrants.
More must also be done to address the legitimate claims of Muslim inmates. …
Indeed, reform must begin with respect. For if French prisons have become a breeding ground for radicalism, it is partly because they mistreat the Islamic faith itself.
Nothing discourages violent criminals more than giving in to their demands.
In summary, you know those massacres of cartoonists and kosher shoppers? White people were at fault.