(TAMPA, FL, 1/23/14) – The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today welcomed a recent court ruling that kosher meals must be served to Jewish prison inmates and called on the state's Department of Corrections to extend this decision by serving halal (Islamically permissible) food to Muslim inmates.
[NOTE: Guidelines for halal food are similar to, but less restrictive than kosher practices. CAIR-FL has received numerous complaints from Muslim inmates seeking access to halal food.]
Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Florida for violating a 2000 law intended to protect inmates' religious rights. The judge in the case issued an injunction, forcing Florida to begin serving kosher meals by July. Only 15 states do not offer inmates a kosher diet.
CAIR-FL sees this as a step in the right direction to ensuring that all inmates are guaranteed their constitutional right to freely practice their religious beliefs.
"We welcome the decision as an important step in protecting religious rights of incarcerated individuals. It is only fair and equitable that if Jewish inmates receive kosher food, as they should, that Muslim inmates have access to halal meals," said CAIR-FL Executive Director Hassan Shibly. "Muslim businesses in our state stand ready to offer the advice and services needed to provide halal meals to inmates."
Last year, CAIR's Michigan chapter filed a lawsuit on behalf of several Muslim inmates against the Department of Corrections for the denial of an adequate diet during the yearly month-long fast of Ramadan.
CAIR offers an educational toolkit called "A Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices," to help correctional officers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-FL Executive Director Hassan Shibly, 813-541-4321, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org