Muslim Imam Mohamed Yusef Ahmed took over as Senior Chaplain of HM Brixton Prison in South London three years ago, and from the start began scrutinizing the Christian teachings brought in by a volunteer Chaplain, Pastor Paul Song, who served the prison for almost 20 years. In August 2017, with no reason given, the Muslim Imam sent the Christian Chaplain a message telling him he was banned from the prison entirely.
Pastor Song, who moved to the UK from South Korea in 1992, was already working full time in ministry when he began volunteering at Brixton in 1998. Song became an official Chaplain in March of that year.
“Over the 19 years, the volunteer chaplain developed strong relationships with the prisoners, the Senior Chaplain and other staff, and many prisoners became Christians and had their lives transformed,” Christian Concern reported. “Paul had full security clearance for all his activities in HMP Brixton, and had even been given keys to the prison as a sign of the high esteem in which he was held.”
This all changed when the Muslim Imam became the Senior Chaplain of HMP Brixton.
“Imam Mohamed’s discriminatory agenda was clear from the outset. He began scrutinising the material for each of our courses, commenting that the material was ‘too radical’, and that the Christian views expressed were ‘extreme’,” Pastor Song said. “He paid scant regard to the fact that the courses are mainstream Christian courses, used by churches throughout the world. He also said he wanted to ‘change the Christian domination within HMP Brixton’.”
In August 2017, the Imam sent Pastor Song an email. “You do not have permission to enter the wings and nor do you have the permission to speak to any prisoners here at HMP Brixton,” it said. “If you do turn up to here without my prior permission from me, your keys will be confiscated and you will be walked to the gate.”
The Imam gave no reason for this decision even after Pastor Song appealed it and met with him. Later on in September, however, Song received a letter from Graham Horlock (Head of Reducing Re-Offending at HMP Brixton) that claimed he had been accused of calling one of the prisoners a “terrorist” – something Song denies – and that the decision to remove him from Brixton applied “permanently with immediate effect.”
“When speaking with prisoners, staff members or anyone else, I would never make offensive comments. The Bible exhorts believers to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, and to ‘let thy light shine before men’; and so being intentionally offensive would violate these commandments,” Pastor Song said. “The whole reason I served at the prison was because of my desire to bring the good news of the gospel to people, regardless of their religion or background. I believe that it has the power to transform the lives of all who believe, and so I would never do anything which may cause an individual to not want to hear the Christian message.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “To call this Christian who has served without a blemish for almost 20 years an extremist defies belief.”
Legal action is being considered against HM Brixton.