Senior Imam: Austrian Prisons ‘Breeding Grounds’ for Islamic Extremism


The Austrian prison system’s most senior imam, Ramazan Demir, warns that the country’s prisons are becoming a breeding ground for Islamic extremism.

In his new book, Imam Demir claims that the situation in prisons is getting worse in terms of radicalisation and that while many criminals enter the system for petty crime, they soon come under the influence of radical Islamist preachers, Kronen Zeitung reports.

“Prisoners who behave inconspicuously at first mutate into ticking time bombs. Suddenly driven by hatred, they speak of wanting to commit murders,” Demir said.

The revelations are even more alarming due to the fact that Muslims are estimated to make up around a quarter of the total prison population in the country.

Demir added that he had become a target of radical Islamists who consider him an “infidel” because he preaches peace rather than violent jihad.

Claiming that he has alerted authorities on multiple times about threats from the radicals, he said: “Those in charge do not want to see the problems in the prisons and the associated danger to our society.”

The imam has also proposed a solution to the growing radicalisation. “The solution would be simple: extremists would be isolated in single cells and at the same time deradicalised,” he said.

Fears of radicalisation in Austrian prisons came to the fore last month after it was revealed that extremist literature was found at the Korneuburg prison. The incident led the government to sever ties with the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGÖ) which had been in charge of the stocking of Islamic texts in prisons since 2010.

In France, the prison system has also been heavily criticised as a breeding ground for radical Islamism.

Last month, a plot was uncovered involving inmates at Fresnes prison who were not only plotting terror attacks to be committed upon their release but had even smuggled in mobile phones which they used to communicate with Islamic State.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at) 


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