Government Rejects Ban On Friday Prayers In Prisons

Iraqi supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr attend Friday prayers in Baghdad's Sadr City April 1, 2016, a day after the influential Shiite cleric ordered his followers to end a two-week sit-in in the capital calling for government reform. Sadr ordered his followers to end the sit-in on March 31 after the country's premier proposed new ministers for a technocratic cabinet that he had demanded. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
The British government has vetoed plans to ban Friday prayers for Muslim prisoners who may “abuse” them to spread extremism. Officials feared a proposal to force Muslims to worship alone in their cells would fuel discontent and lead to even further radicalisation of inmates. Prison governors are currently responsible for ensuring acts of worship are safe, and have the power to remove troublemakers, but a report by Ian Acheson has suggested ending Friday prayers completely if there is a risk of extremists exploiting them. However, one prison source told the Times: “There would be enormous political fallout as well as risks to the stability of prisons if Friday prayers were banned. It would become an issue of us attacking religion, whatever faith was involved.” The Ministry of Justice has now confirmed: “We will ensure that governors use their existing powers to remove prisoners from corporate worship where they are behaving subversively or promoting beliefs that run counter to fundamental British values. “We do not, however, believe it is the right course of action at present to alter the provision of worship more generally or to pursue in-cell alternatives.” Mr Acheson’s report warned that “cultural sensitivity” towards Muslim prisoners was stopping