60-70 percent of inmates in French jails are Muslims
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: Around 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the French prison system are Muslims despite them making up only 12 percent of the country’s total population, according to a report released by the Washington Post on Tuesday.
“The high percentage of Muslims in prisons is a direct consequence of the failure of the integration of minorities in France,” the report quotes Moussa Khedimellah, a sociologist who has spent several years conducting research on Muslims in the French penal system, as saying.
However, French prison officials blame the high numbers on the poverty of people who have moved to France from North African and other Islamic countries in recent decades.
“Many immigrants arrive in France in difficult financial situations, which make delinquency more frequent,” said Jeanne Sautičre, director of integration and religious groups for the French prison system. “The most important thing is to say there is no correlation between Islam and delinquency.”
But Muslim leaders, sociologists and human rights activists argue that more than in most other European countries, government social policies in France have served to isolate Muslims in impoverished suburbs that have high unemployment, inferior schools and substandard housing. This has helped create a generation of French-born children with little hope of social advancement and even less respect for French authority, the report states.
In Britain, 11 percent of prisoners are Muslim in contrast to about three percent of all inhabitants, according to the Justice Ministry.
Research by the Open Society Institute, an advocacy organisation, shows that in the Netherlands 20 percent of adult prisoners and 26 percent of all juvenile offenders are Muslim; the country is about 5.5 percent Muslim.
In Belgium, Muslims from Morocco and Turkey make up at least 16 percent of the prison population, compared with 2 percent of the general populace, the research found.