House of Lords hears from Aberdeen anthropologist

House of Lords hears from Aberdeen anthropologist

A University of Aberdeen lecturer will present his research findings on the Muslim experience of prison at the House of Lords tomorrow.

Dr Gabriele Marranci, a lecturer in Anthropology of Religion, has been asked to take part in the IQRA Trust Annual Lecture in London following worldwide interest in his recent work.

Dr Marranci spent four years researching how being behind bars impacted on Muslim identity and their experience of Islam. His findings – reported all over the globe - debunked the idea of Muslim chaplains as ultimate 'radicalisers' and argued that current practices intended to curb radicalism within UK prisons were having the opposite effect.

He also raised worrying concerns about individuals from dissembled militant Muslim organisations trying to 'talent scout' young former Muslim prisoners.

The IQRA Trust was set up in 1993 to support the educational and training needs of imams and prisoners. Its aims include raising awareness of issues affecting Muslim prisoners and promoting the importance of education and training in the successful resettlement of Muslim prisoners once they are released.

Dr Marranci was invited by IQRA Director Salah El-Hassan to take part in its annual lecture, which will be chaired by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham on Tuesday, June 26.

"I am particularly thankful to Lord Ahmed of Rotherham and the Director IQRA Trust Prisoner Welfare, Mr Salah El-Hassan for this occasion to present my findings at the House of Lords," said Dr Marranci, whose lecture is entitled Living Islam in prison: faith, ideology and fear.

"I hope that my research and findings can contribute to a better understanding of the issues that we are facing within prisons and to help the Prison Service and the Government to change its current security policies"

Lord David Ramsbotham, former Chief Inspector of Prisons, will give the keynote speech at the IQRA event in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

The IQRA lecture is the latest in a string of engagements for Dr Marranci following the wide interest in his findings. He recently met with the Prison Service, which intends to continue to collaborate with the Aberdeen academic. And he also accepted an invite to discuss his research with the Chief Prison Inspector, Anne Owers, and has agreed to address REMIT, the Scottish Prison Service's Race Relations Group later this year.

A book on his research work, provisionally titled "Faith, ideology and fear: Muslim identities within and beyond prisons", will be published by Continuum Books in summer 2008. 

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