By Stephen Magagnini, Sacremento Bee, 1/6/15
Alleging years of intense harassment and retaliation at New Folsom prison, Muslim correctional officer Elsiddig Elhindi has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state Corrections Department.
The lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was filed on Elhindi's behalf Dec. 31 by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It alleges that Elhindi, an immigrant from Sudan married to a U.S. citizen, endured numerous anti-Muslim slurs and taunts from co-workers at California State Prison, Sacramento, from early 2006 until the fall of 2014.
At a press conference at Sacramento CAIR offices Monday with his attorney, Brice Hamack, Elhindi, 56, said his complaints were at first ignored, and later prompted retaliation. Elhindi also filed charges with the department's internal Equal Employment Opportunity Division and reported the harassment to supervisors numerous times, but alleged they were dismissive.
"The stress level is unbelievable – it amounts to emotional torture," Elhindi said. He alleged that his co-workers tried to incite inmates against him, putting his life at risk.
"It never stopped," he said.
Elhindi, an observant Muslim, prays five times a day, and his religion required him to pray two or three times daily at work, depending upon his shift, according to the lawsuit. Each prayer takes approximately two minutes to complete.
The suit alleges that once his co-workers realized he was Muslim, one co-worker asked: "Is your vest like ours, or is it a suicide bombing vest?" Another allegedly said: "Here is Elhindi, we need bomb-sniffing dogs." (Read more)