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Society – Extremist literature

October 2016

Five books branded as extremist by the prison service remained in prison libraries in England and Wales for seven months after a review called for their removal, it has been revealed.

According to a report from the BBC, the books, which promote hard-line Islam, were discovered during Home Office official Ian Acheson’s prison review and reported to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in November 2015.

One more of the texts had been found in chaplaincy rooms at nine of the 11 prisons that were inspected, but, according to the BBC, the order to remove the books was only made after 20 June.

In an email to all prisons by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) which runs jails on behalf of the MoJ, the NOMS asked for the book’s immediate removal and describing them as ‘extremist literature’. It said, ‘Their free access to vulnerable and suggestible prisoners is an obvious security risk’.

The way of jihad and Milestones are both regarded as having inspired jihadists in the Arab world over the past decade. As to their respective authors, Hassan Al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and Sayyid Qutb was a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s.

Earlier this year, Christian Concern’s director of Islamic affairs, Tim Dieppe, discussed how many prison imams were found to be promoting extremism, emphasising that changes must be made in order to prevent this from continuing.

At the time, he said, ‘Thereneeds to be a complete overhaul of the Muslim prison chaplaincy system. There should be zero tolerance for promoting of Islamic fundamentalism by prison imams. Guidelines need to be set out and prison imams should abide by a clear set of regulations’.