In the past, many prisons in the US had a problem with the Aryan Nation movement that was growing inside them. Now, it looks like Islam is becoming the new prison movement. And as the case surrounding the imam Umar Abdul-Jalil shows, this is something that should be banned in prisons just as much as Aryan Nation. From the New York Sun
Extremist remarks made by the head imam of the city's jail system are generating alarm about whether inmates are being recruited as Islamic fundamentalists.
Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city has suspended Imam Umar Abdul-Jalil of the city's Department of Correction until officials can get more information about his remarks and determine whether he violated any regulations.
"We can't prejudge but we are going to look at it this afternoon," Mr. Bloomberg told reporters yesterday. "Having said that, this morning, so that he would not go back into the jails, we put him on paid administrative leave at least for the day."
The move by the city came after the New York Post reported that Mr. Abdul-Jalil declared in a speech that the White House is run by terrorists and that Muslims were tortured in Manhattan prisons after the World Trade Center attacks.
He also reportedly urged Muslims in America to stop letting "the Zionists of the media to dictate what Islam is to us." The Investigative Project on Terrorism obtained a recording of his speech, a senior researcher with the organization, Tamar Tesler, confirmed yesterday.
The imam, who has been with the department since 1993 and has been overseeing all clergy members at the agency since 2004, could not be reached yesterday. He did, however, publicly deny that he was promoting extremist views and said his comments were taken out of context.
The director of Simon Wiesenthal's New York Tolerance Center, Mark Weitzman, said, if true, the statements are cause for worry about possible recruitment of Islamic fundamentalists in city jails.
"It would not be novel," he said. "There have been a lot of reports of chaplains using prisons for recruitment. The chaplaincy is there to provide support for people of every religion, but not to provide a breeding ground for religious intolerance and hate."
Mr. Weitzman said he wants to know whether the imam used the same kind of rhetoric among inmates. He said he was glad that the city took quick action.
"If it's true the city needs to review its policies," he said. "You are not going to have a minister of the Christian Identity, of the Klan, as the Christian clergyman. You would not have a rabbi who's involved with extremist Jewish groups ministering to Jews in there. The same standard should apply across the board."
The director of the Anti-Defamation League's New York office, Joel Levy, said the organization was told that Mr. Abdul-Jalil is responsible for the "Islamic studies curriculum" at the Department of Correction. That curriculum needs to be reviewed, he said. "What views does he hold about Islam? I think somebody needs to investigate that as well," he said.
Mr. Levy said the case is troubling on several fronts. In addition to making "blatantly anti-Semitic" statements, he said it is "totally inappropriate" for someone working in law enforcement to say, "the greatest terrorists in the world occupy the White House" and to question the legitimacy of the American government.
Seeing that this Abdul-Jalil's been an imam since 1993, one can only wonder just how many recruits for jihad he's gathered since then. And this is but a reason as to why such practices may have to be banned in prisons altogether.
Labels: islam, United States