Maslaha’s work in this area has been focused on highlighting the disproportionate rise in young Muslim men in the criminal justice system with the number doubling over the past 10 years. Our reports have also highlighted the discrimination that exists within the criminal justice system and the particular impact of Islamophobia. We are also advocating for a more sophisticated approach to understanding the needs of Muslim men and women in the system which will lead to better designed and delivered public services.
All We Are was a collaborative research and artistic project with the Mile End Community project, looking at the lives of Muslim men who had experienced the criminal justice system directly or indirectly through family and friends.
Muslim communities make up 5% of the population in England and Wales, but 15% of those in prison, a significant rise in the past 10 years.
Despite the fact that only 1% of Muslim prisoners are convicted for terrorist related offences the dominant attitude to Muslims by prison authorities focuses on them as being or having the potential to become radicalised. There is very little research as to the experiences and outcomes of Muslim men who have been through the criminal justice system.
The Ministry of Justice is also unable to explain the rise in figures because there is a lack of data based on religion
What We Did
In partnership with the Mile End Community we held a number of focus groups in Tower Hamlets with young Muslim men who had directly or indirectly experienced the criminal justice system. . The areas we looked at included family, education, religion, employment, and identity. Some of the findings within the report included, the high level of exclusion from schools, the lack of employment opportunities, the negative portrayal of Muslim communities and Islam in contrast to the positive benefits the group experienced
Additionally, the young men also wanted to challenge public narrative that they felt remained largely negative and crude. We worked with artist and designer artist Hannah Habibi, to recreate a landmark painting - Joseph Wright's 'The Experiment' - using the 'language of the elite' to challenge how these young men are portrayed and perceived, both within their community and outside of it.
The report was also featured on the BBC Asian Network.