Italy: Ramadan may be used to 'recruit militants' in prison

Rome, 4 Sept. (AKI) - The holy fasting month of Ramadan may provide fertile ground for recruiting militants in Italy's already overcrowded prisons, according to a senior police official. Secretary-general of the Italian penitentiary police union (SAPPE), Donato Capace, said authorities were concerned that foreign prisoners may become radicalised due to the difficult conditions.

"Of the 27,000 foreign detainees, one third of them are Muslim," said Capace told Adnkronos.

"The increase in tension in the situation of Afghanistan and Iraq could (also) have repercussions.

"Due to the overcrowding in the cells and the high number of foreign detainees, with so many of them of the Islamic faith, the prison cell could become a place where petty criminals are tempted by jailed members of terror organisations," said Capace.

Although many of the detainees face restrictions such as not being able to pray beside their friends and family and have no access to traditional food during Ramadan, prison authorities are sensitive to the religious requirements of the inmates.

Capace warned that those who support Islamic terrorism try to camouflage their activities by infiltrating their own faithful as well as unsuspecting detainees and even westerners.

He referred to a case in 2001 and 2002, when a 29-year-old Italian who converted to Islam placed explosives in several places in Italy.

"A Sicilian detainee converted to Islam in jail where he was serving a sentence for minor crimes, and after being set free he blew up two gas cylinders at the subway in Milan and at the Temple of Concord in Agrigento," he said.

During the month of Ramadan, which began on 20 August fit Muslims don't eat or drink during daylight hours and must refrain from sex and smoking.


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