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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

No sex-offender therapy, please – we're Muslims

Seems that Muslims – for entirely religious reasons – are going to escape the sex-offender therapy that all non-Muslims will have to undergo, if this story in the London Times is to be believed.

"Ahtsham Ali, the prison service’s Muslim adviser, said that there was a 'legitimate Islamic position' that criminals should not discuss their crimes with others," the story says.

For starters, who is paying for a "Muslim adviser" for our prison service? We, the taxpayers? Do all groups who subscribe to whatever batty belief systems get special advisers to plead their cases?

For seconds, what is a "legitimate Islamic position". Legitimised by whom? By what law? It's an Islamic position, yes, but a legitimate Islamic position? Define your terms, please, Mr Ali.

And why are the followers of one particular belief system saying they should be excepted from therapy? Because "open discussion of their crimes is against their religion", says The Times.

But they've committed crimes, for goodness' sake, haven't they? Perhaps we could claim that being locked up in the first place is against our religion. That any punishment for crime is against our religion. That facing trial is against our religion, or even being arrested is against our religion. Yeah, let's invent a religion and do that.

Ali now plans to hold discussions with officials in the Ministry of Justice. He told Inside Time, the prisoners’ newspaper (quoted here in the Times story), "I will be taking it forward as a matter of some urgency with colleagues, including those with policy responsibility for the sex offender treatment programme, who are very willing to discuss these issues."

I bet they're "very willing" to discuss them. Those in authority in Britain can't leap high enough, it seems, when the Muslim says jump. It would be a shame if, by insisting on equality for all, they were accused of racism (even though a religion is not a race). Oh, dear, that wouldn't do.

A spokeswoman for the prison service tells The Times, "We are seeking to ensure that the policy for the sex offender treatment programme is sensitive to the diversity of religions within the prison context."

Why? What about being sensitive to the victims and potential victims of sex crimes? What about being sensitive to those who undergo the therapy but see their mate from C wing avoiding it?

It could, of course, backfire on the Muslims. Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook, says in The Times that a change could lead to Muslims spending longer in prison because their risk of reoffending could not be assessed.

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