Hands hang outside of a prison cell.

Hands hang outside of a prison cell. Photo courtesy of sakhorn via Shutterstock

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Two-thirds of imprisoned Islamists in England have told police and prison authorities that they will never change their violent ways.

Of the 150 offenders who are in prison or on parole, 110 have refused to engage with a government-designed program called Contest,  a counterterrorism strategy that seeks to change the ways of religious extremists after their release from jail, as well as guide young adults away from religious extremism, according to a government document.

Usama Hasan, a senior researcher in Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim anti-terrorist think tank based in London, said the low interest in the program reveals the extent of the challenge ahead.

“Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., you’ve still got the majority of these people not wanting to deal with any examination or discussion of their hard-line ideas,” he said.

Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said challenging the ideas of extremists while they were in prison was “doomed.”

In an interview last month with The Times of London, he talked of the lower-tier foot soldiers of terrorism masterminds.

“You would expect the foot soldiers to be more reachable,” he said. “However, if they’re doing long prison stretches for their ideas, they might feel this is a part of their cause, being a warrior, so it might in fact strengthen their beliefs rather than weaken them.”

The way jailed Islamic extremists snub nonviolence courses is a burning issue facing the police and public.

On Wednesday (Feb. 26), a judge sentenced two Muslims who killed British soldier Lee Rigby on a South London street last May.

Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, used knives to kill the 25-year-old fusilier and later screamed at onlookers that they had been told to do this by Allah.

Judge Nigel Sweeney told the men they had betrayed Islam “and the peaceful Muslim communities which give so much to our country.”

Adebolajo, who was sentenced to life in prison, replied: “It is not a betrayal of Islam; you don’t know anything about Islam.”

Abebowale, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison, yelled out, “I swear by Allah, Britain and America will never have any safety.”



  1. When is the suspicion and hatred among religious groups ever going to end? That suspicion and all the subsequent behavior turn religion into evil when it is supposed to be a force for good. Since the leaders of religious groups are obviously unable or unwilling to initiate needed changes for good, it is up to ordinary followers. The problem is that ordinary followers are so brainwashed, so misled, and follow those leaders like blind sheep while those leaders distort their positions into a monarchy. There is little hope for a change of religion from its horribly evil past into any force for good.

    Question: What can replace religion and its supposedly holy congregations?

    Jesus would be ashamed of most of his followers today, and he would be chasing them out of his “father’s house” everywhere, all over the globe, just as he did in Jerusalem, for making those “temples” dens of all kinds of evil, not just thievery. That behavior of Jesus was used by the politicians of his day as the excuse they wanted to assassinate him and hang him up to die on a cross. That way, they could scare other challengers. Jesus got in the way of those hypocrites.

    Ordinary people need to take back their churches everywhere, whether Jews, Christians, or Muslims, or any other, just as ordinary people have taken back Ukraine from its evil politicians. Good, ordinary Christians must take back their churches from the evil that the non-Christian Emperor Constantine worked at Nicaea in 325 when he duped the bishops into believing he was allowing him to share his royal crown and power.

    Aren’t power and religion an anomaly? Secrecy is the greatest evil of any institution, whether it be a family, a church, or a civil government. Secrecy is needed by supposed leaders to hide their negative actions and their dirty tricks from their ordinary followers.

  2. These cowardly murders must now face the wrath of the far right extreamists, also in jail for life, who have nothing to lose. They must be kept isoated and locked up 24/7 without a TV or radio to feed their radicalization.
    These creatures are not soldiers of Allah but pathetic murderers who were brought up in this country, educated and clothed. Then they bit the hand that fed them. A most dispicable pair who can now rot in Hell.

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