(WASHINGTON, DC, 8/16/18) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a Maryland federal court's decision to allow CAIR's lawsuit against a prison in that state to move forward.
In allowing the case to proceed, United States District Court Judge Peter Messitte rejected Prince George's County's attempt to have the case dismissed.
As a result of this decision, CAIR lawyers will now have the authority to demand documents and information from Prince George's County about their unequal treatment of Muslim inmates. CAIR will also be able to depose key officials who created and enforced the Islam-specific prison policy challenged by the lawsuit.
SEE: Court Decision
The lawsuit, filed earlier this year on behalf of six inmates, is aimed at ending the disfavored treatment that Prince George's County has imposed on the Muslims in its custody. While the prison allows inmates of other faiths to congregate for prayer and religious study, the county has denied inmates the ability to pray in congregation. In fact, the prison's Islam-specific policies regarding inmate gatherings only applies to Muslim inmates who seek to practice their faith while in custody.
Inmates who have attempted to pray with others have been locked-down in their cells and, in some cases, held in solitary confinement.
"Every part of government -- including correctional facilities -- must not treat inmates differently based on their faith," said CAIR Trial Attorney Ahmed Mohamed, who argued the motion in Judge Messitte’s court. "CAIR stands ready to defend the civil and religious rights of all, including those who are incarcerated."
“Inmates are among the most vulnerable populations of Americans at risk of having their rights violated,” said CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry. “This decision is a critical step in the right direction to help ensure that Muslim prisoners are able to observe their faith free from discrimination.”
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 also represents inmates in Alaska and Washington in lawsuits defending the rights of Muslim inmates to practice their faith while in prison.
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.