(WASHINGTON, DC, 5/23/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the filing of a lawsuit in federal court in Anchorage, Ala., against Anchorage Correctional Complex officials on behalf of Muslim inmates who CAIR says are being “starved” and fed pork as they observe Ramadan. Muslims are prohibited by their faith from consuming pork products.
[NOTE: Fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan requires Muslims to refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. Correctional facilities across the country accommodate Muslim inmates by providing meals before break of dawn and after sunset.]
Officials at the Anchorage Correctional Complex have provided Muslim inmates with less than half the calories they require -- as little as 500 calories on some days – which amounts to a starvation diet.
CAIR filed suit yesterday in the US District Court for the District of Alaska claiming violation of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment prohibitions against “cruel and unusual punishment,” violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and free exercise of religion.
The suit seeks a “balanced nutritional diet” for the inmates, policy changes and compensatory and punitive damages.
Read CAIR’s Lawsuit:
In addition to the lawsuit, CAIR also filed an emergency motion to request the federal court’s immediate intervention and asking for a hearing as soon as possible.
Read Emergency Motion:
“The Constitution and Congress forbid prisons from compelling inmates to choose between their faith and food,” said National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “We hope that a court will do what Anchorage Correctional Complex officials will not: ensure that Muslim inmates are not starved or forced to violate the principles of their faith during the holy month of Ramadan.”
“This prison is violating federal law specifically crafted to protect the religious freedom of prisoners, as well as the Constitution. Without immediate intervention, officials will continue their illegal conduct,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer.
She said CAIR offers an educational toolkit, called "A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help correctional officers and administrators gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
CAIR has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.
The Washington-based organization’s recently-released 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.
New CAIR Report: Trump's Muslim Bans Increased Anti-Muslim Discrimination, Violence
Community members are being urged to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by going to: https://www.cair.com/report
CAIR launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and to simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging American Muslims and members of other minority groups to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org