Talking about being in prison is still a sensitive subject and only discussed among certain members. Over a period of months we explored different discussion points, using standard questions to prompt a discussion, as well as using film, and more interactive exercises. A number of organisations MCP has worked with in the past have made promises about work or work experience but not followed through. As a result there was and remains a need to ensure the group trusts Maslaha’s motives and understands that positive results may not be instant. Over the course of two years, the dynamics between Maslaha and the group have very much become more open and trusting.
We believe that in order for the criminal justice system to be able to work effectively, there needs to be a broader understanding of these issues affecting young Muslim men. Such an understanding would facilitate more appropriate sentencing, which would in turn lead to a greater chance of re-offending not occurring.
We are currently carrying out a focused scoping exercise examining how the criminal justice system is failing to deliver an appropriate response and how criminal justice decision-making can be more effective in responding to offending by young Muslim men. You can read more about this here.
Arrows may not center when in edit mode. Once site is published, the arrow will be centered on the tab
When the site is published, this border and note will not show up.
Drag & drop your tab 1 content here
Your parents just tell you to go to school. You never communicate to your parents.
The main points that came out of our discussions on family are:
- lack of communication with parents/families
- lack of understanding between the older and younger generations in terms of context and growing up in a very different world to parents
- absent fathers and the impact this has
- the importance of family/parental support for supporting aspirations
- the role (or not) that family members play in being role models for their children
- economic struggle
Your parents might need money, and you might see that growing up and that happens mainly in Asian families - if you see your mum struggling you want to help. In white families, when you are old enough, you get out.
Now we can’t find a job, people end up lying to their parents saying they’re working, so they need to do something to keep busy, stay out all day. Probably drug dealing, working on the streets to take money home.
People are out because they've got nothing to do at home. If you live in a three bedroom house, mum’s watching the TV downstairs, someone else watching TV upstairs.
Drag & drop your tab 2 content here
All the naughty kids got the free trips. Teachers didn’t believe in us.
Lessons didn't always resonate in the way they were taught, as well as the content. Cultural diversity and local context is broadly not well-reflected in school curricula and this has been shown to raise engagement and aspiration .
I was thrown out of school in Year 10, sent to PRU [Pupil Referral Unit] for getting into fights. Basically for eight months, I did nothing at that PRU. I needed to do something that was more practical like learn about apprenticeships. It’s not like I was stupid, I just couldn’t sit still in the classroom. I eventually ended up in remand for ten days.
It’s something that should have been taught in school. Don’t understand why they never taught us business in maths. Like take this pound, this is how to make it into two.
You start bunking from year 7; when you’re younger you see other people doing it, older people - it starts with the little things. If you were to rewind, I’d go back to school, I’d be a boffin.
You can read more about our pilot workshops in two schools in East London here.
Read more about the group's suggestions and recommendations here.
 Aiming High: Raising the Achievement of Minority Ethnic Pupils, DES 2003
 See e.g. ibid and Muslims in the UK: Policies for Engaged Citizens, OSI 2005
Drag & drop your tab 3 content here
People who are legit and with money don’t come and talk to you. People who are on the streets in their Ferraris come and talk to you. The drug dealer is always wearing fresh clothes, fresh trainers - this is something I want too.
Drive and ambition do exist, but many members of the group complained about struggling with how to turn their ideas into practice, a struggle which often lead to frustration and a loss in motivation.
In the end it was often drug dealers who showed them this 'how' and 'invested' in them - lack of alternatives and constructive support meant the same outcomes were repeated.
I got so many ideas but I wouldn’t know how to put them into a plan. Young people don’t know who to turn to. People might know about stuff like the Princes Trust, but they don’t know what it does, they think it’s for youth clubs.
You can get a three year guaranteed income from university students [looking for drugs]. It’s like you’re your own boss. Where as if you’re working in retail, you gotta get up, get shouted at by the boss everyday. You’re used to having money; it’s a millionaires life innit.
When you’re older, employment is on everyone’s mind. If you go to a job centre and they put ten people forward for a job, if you’ve got a criminal record 100% you’re not gonna get the job.
For me it’s something [social/creative business] I’ve always liked – this [project] is a perfect opportunity; the first real opportunity.
I chose it [my career idea] because I love working with young people and I want to help them too; support them – don’t have to be making money, I'm doing good deeds out of it too. A good thing is to help people get recognition for their work.
Drag & drop your tab 4 content here
You follow the older kids; you start becoming independent when you’re beginning 11, 12. I didn’t look at religion inside but I saw my friends and I went deeper into the deen (faith).
For most who have been in prison, they have viewed and experienced religion as a force for good, sustaining them and helping not to re-offend, on release. It has become a strong part of their identity, a very personal, meaningful journey rather than just for showing others that they’re a ‘good Muslim.’
When you are praying in your cell, you feel that connection; if you go to mosque you might go just to show other people but in prison you are just you in your cell.
We will be taking this forward in our recommendations as an important part of how the Criminal Justice System is currently failing young Muslims by stigmatizing them further and failing to engage with the values and frameworks that resonate with them when attempting to come up with solutions.
Drag & drop your tab 5 content here
Do you know Osama bin Laden? Do you know where he is?
They were asked the questions solely by virtue of the fact that they were Muslim - yet there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world.
Identity for these young men has been shaped externally by world and national events and attitudes, as well as internally themselves, and their families and community.
Stereotypes play a large role in the daily lives of these young men. It led them to produce a short film and range of clothing called HoodForts, to challenge the assumption that all they are is a bunch of 'hoodies.'
You start doing normal things, playing football. Everyone got bored. In year nine or ten, something crazy, everyone started buying cars. And then it was just one crime after another.
- Tied up with appearance, having ‘things’ – trainers, clothing, vehicles etc.
- Tied up with hierarchies amongst their family, friend and enemy groups
- Tied up with geography – the street or estate they come from
- Those seen as role models when younger were the older guys with cars, often dealing drugs, making money
- Religion is a part of identity for some, but not all, and this tends to emerge as they grow older
- Underpinning everything is how they view themselves, individually and as a group; how they think others view them; and how others do view them
What else was there to do? You were always trying to cause a problem that’s more interesting. You even wanted to get chased by the police. It just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
All of the group have grown up with their friends being involved with the criminal justice system on a regular basis. This impacts also on those who are 'out,' from both an identity and health point of view. A theme we will engage with as the project develops involves mental and emotional health: how mental health of young people is overlooked within and around the criminal justice system (in terms of e.g. PTSD and depression, seeing and experiencing gang violence, losing friends etc.), and how this may act as a further barrier to employment, aspiration or simply being able to live a well and healthy life.
Drag & drop content here