Radical Islam Spreads in Prisons of France

Overcrowded Jails Are Breeding Grounds for Jihadists

Radical Birth: France is battling a rising tide of radical Islam. Its prisons are breeding grounds for jihadists.
getty images
Radical Birth: France is battling a rising tide of radical Islam. Its prisons are breeding grounds for jihadists.

By Reuters

Published May 07, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

“You’re seeking hope and when someone holds out a hand, you take it,” he said. However, in a subsequent encounter the new friend urged him to “kill the infidels wherever you find them”.

“The idea was to go get myself trained and become a violent Jihadist,” said Mokhtari, adding that the recruiters work on inmates’ hostility to the prison system and to a country where they often have been unable to find work.

Nearly two decades ago Mokhtari resisted such pressure. Today, aged 35, he works with youth to keep them out of prison and has co-written a book, “Redemption”, about his experiences.

Prison workers say the vast majority of Muslim inmates are not radicalised. Yet leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from 2005 cite a warning by French officials that the prisons and poor suburban neighbourhoods were top recruitment areas for radical Islamists, and refer to a report by French intelligence services describing radicalised prisoners as “time bombs”.

Chaotic jails bear the brunt of overcrowding due to constant arrivals of uncharged suspects, and in cells or the yard, petty hoodlums quickly cross paths with serious criminals.

“It’s the little guys who bother us the most, because on the inside they meet the big guys. Then the consequences are bad,” said Gangbazo, the Villepinte guard. “At our level, the guards are powerless against that.”

UNDER THE RADAR

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira warned foreign journalists in March against overestimating the threat of prison radicalisation, but added it was “certainly worrying”.

Asked how authorities were tackling the problem, she cited measures to transfer inmates found to be proselytising to other jails, aiming to disrupt any recruitment efforts to radicalism.

This policy helps to control those prisoners already identified as radical Islamists, but not all recruiters have been convicted under France’s anti-terrorism laws. The task is tougher with inmates serving terms for unrelated offences who have turned to radical Islam unnoticed by the authorities.

Untrained staff tend to confuse devout Muslims with potential radicals, said sociologist Khosrokhavar, author of a 2004 study commissioned by the Justice Ministry that was the first to highlight the level of Muslims in French jails.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.