In its latest policy paper, right-wing Ukip has proposed the establishment of “Muslim-only” prisons to safeguard non-Muslim inmates in the United Kingdom.
This, along with other controversial proposals, was included in the policy document which was published before the party’s annual conference began in Birmingham.
The paper also suggested more stringent security checks for immigrants entering Britain from “Islamic countries”.
The objectives outlined in the paper also included a ban on mosques that receive funding from abroad and the abolition of the category of “hate crime”, thus invalidating the very real threat marginalized communities face on account of their religion, race, and ethnicity.
Moreover, the so-called “Interim Manifesto” justified the idea of Muslim-only prisons, claiming that “gangs of Muslims” in prison hounded non-Muslim inmates who were forced to “convert for their own safety.”
The party leader, Gerard Batten, who has a well-documented penchant of stoking fear of the Muslim community, defended the policies, saying they will help Ukip become “a populist party in the real meaning of the word.”
I’m at the Ukip conference in Birmingham, where the merchandise stall shows the party’s current transition - lots of purple & yellow “£” logos *and* an increasing focus on Islam, leader Gerard Batten’s big obsession pic.twitter.com/1fIdY7vABH— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) September 21, 2018
However, the suggestion of segregated prison seems pretty bizarre and, like most of Ukip’s claims, appears to be consistent with the party’s hatemongering rhetoric.
In 2016, a report into racism commissioned by David Cameron confirmed that the percentage of Muslim population had surged in prisons. However, the report also said it was not clear if inmates were converting to Islam in prisons.
Also, in the few reported instances where inmates have converted to Islam in UK prisons, it was not because of proselytizing gangs of Muslims: A British aristocrat converted to Islam in prison to get his hands on halal meat reserved for Muslim inmates.
For obvious reasons, the suggestions prompted a widespread backlash. Maajid Nawaz, chairperson of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, said that this was the “first step to Muslim concentration camps.”
“Hope, Not Hate”, an anti-racism group said that, with this step, Ukip’s “march further and further right continues.”
This is obviously not the only Islamophobic idea to have come from Batten. Earlier, he had claimed that “white English girls” in the UK were under threat from Muslim sex gangs. He added that the practice of preying on young white girls went back to the Prophet himself.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS/Darren Staples