The Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints
I hope there's room for me.

Welcome all - especially Mancunians.

Hello anybody lost in the blogosphere. Welcome to the ruminations of a politically left of centre, Man United supporting, blues loving, history-fixated, Catholic wanderer. Be warned, I am a bit of a curmudgeon.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

A reflection on the Manchester Arena attack.

Jeremy Corbyn made some salient points in his speech, but it is all somewhat beside the point: whilst intervention in the Umaah is used as a reason for faux outrage by many extremists (faux, in the sense that the purpose of their terrorist attacks and militaty incursions in Muslim countries is to invite war), the reality of what drives/encourages/manipulates these young men to their actions is complex and, on the whole, fed by the belief that they have been treated as the underdog, cast-aside, used (pick your adjective or noun). In joining a group who consider themselves elite and everybody else as "kāfir", they are able to to feed their own sense of entitlement, bolster their idea of personal heroism, thus allowing them to bully, threaten, cheat and deceive with impunity. Many of these people are more than willing to play the victim if it gives them a weapon with which to beat the authorities/establishment/the man/the police (take your pick), but they are amused and dismissive of those who give in to them in this way.
Prisons are are an interesting example of how they work - they gain control by demanding their rights, shouting "racist", putting in complaints, harassing and ridiculing the Muslim Chaplains, refusing to allow female officers to search their persons or their pads, trying to claim religious exemptions from statutory requirements. The Muslim gang is brought together by being a mix of muscle and religious doctrine. On each wing, one prisoner will be seen as a teacher and other prisoners (often very vulnerable) will be brought to them for religious instruction, often fed by extremist literature that has been smuggled into the prison -in some cases, books donated by a Muslim charity will be of an extremist nature that nobody bothered to properly check (although this has improved). On the wings, Muslim prisoners set up an almost parallel community and, if they see a threat in the form of another gang, will seek to absorb it or, if that fails, try to crush it by using violence, often by assaults in the workshops, during movements, in education, gym, etc., with prisoners from another wing used to commit the assaults.
If a prisoner has been forced onto the "numbers", they will then invite them to reapply for the main wing if they are willing to convert. Prisoners who have self-evidently never been Muslims in their lives argue vociferously with staff that they are Muslim, get the Muslim Chaplain down to make their shahada, and get themselves back on the wings. Then, they are told that, to be properly accepted after being with the "nonces", they have to assault a member of staff or another prisoner.
Young men with no strong sense of personal worth are incorporated into a powerful group who, against all evidence to the contrary, profess themselves to be the most oppressed group of people in the prison estate and the wider country, feeding a victim mentality which can lead to these young men becoming very dangerous, accepting no moral prerogative beyond that laid down for them by the group. Their morality is a mix of violent criminality and religious extremism fed by particular hadiths and fatwas, some of the latter declared by self-appointed teachers within the prisoner population.
Now, quite often, when a prisoner moves to another prison outside of the High Security Estate, he will quickly rediscover his non-Muslim roots and avoid all reference to their past, and they will truly be delighted to be out of the madness. Others will be moved and remain Muslim, perhaps having found a faith that gives them a discipline they need but learn to move away from the very warped version of it fed to them when they first converted. Others will move and remain angry, belligerent and violent. Others will move and be quiet but manipulative, continuing to follow the doctrine they were fed.
Trust me - Prevent is a costly waste of time, effort and money - it is about as effective as the Sex Offender Treatment Programme that so many resouces have been poured into, and does not work.
Most people look at prisons and think that Muslim gangs are just a issue for black prisoners, they are wrong and ignore the fact that the vast majority of Afro-Caribbean prisoners who go to prison for long sentences are of a Christian background, but convert quite quickly (sometimes for a sense of identity, sometimes for political reasons, sometimes under pressure). More and more prisoners of White British backgrounds are also converting, for similar reasons and a significant minority of these are becoming radicalised. Whilst lots will eventually move on and leave prison and forget their choices in prison, some will hold onto them and bring a lot of violent attitudes into our communities and onto our streets.
Yesterday, I visited the scene of the bombing, only being allowed as close as the police cordon near Chetham's School, and saw the casual nature of police officers holding semi-automatic rifles. I went to the shrine in St. Ann's Square which, while surrounded by film crews and edging towards the mawkish, still had the capacity to move. Seeing young people in leg bandages from the night make their respects is truly affecting. People were constantly asking "How could anybody target children?"
Well gentlemen, I think the answer, in an admittedly different setting for the killer, lies in much that I have observed from the many years I spent working in the High Security Estate: he could target children because they counted as nothing compared to the rigid sense of morality that he had been fed.
The other thing that bothered me last night, as I stood in St. Ann's Square, was that none of the journalists are actually asking the right questions, and that makes me bloody angry. The politicians are not willing to deal with issues and, as I found with those at the top in the Prison Service (or NOMS, as it was called for a time), refuse to listen to those who try to tell them what is happening as it does not fit into their political world-view, and then run around asking themselves how to prevent radicalisation and the murder of the innocent.

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