Source: The Washington Post
Samia El Alaoui Talibi walks her beat in a cream-colored head scarf and an ink-black robe with sunset-orange piping, an outfit she picked up at a yard sale.
After passing a bulletproof window, El Alaoui Talibi trudges through half a dozen heavy, locked doors to reach the Muslim faithful to whom she ministers in the women's cellblock of the Lille-Sequedin Detention Center in far northern France.
It took her years to earn this access, said El Alaoui Talibi, one of only four Muslim holy women allowed to work in French prisons. "Everyone has the same prejudices and negative image of Muslims and Islam," said Moroccan-born El Alaoui Talibi, 47, the mother of seven children. "When some guards see you, they see an Arab; they see you the same as if you were a prisoner."
This prison is majority Muslim -- as is virtually every house of incarceration in France. About 60 to 70 percent of all inmates in the country's prison system are Muslim, according to Muslim leaders, sociologists and researchers, though Muslims make up only about 12 percent of the country's population.
On a continent where immigrants and the children of immigrants are disproportionately represented in almost every prison system, the French figures are the most marked, according to researchers, criminologists and Muslim leaders.