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CAIR Calls for Independent Probe of Quran Trashing at Maryland Correctional Facility

(WASHINGTON D.C., 6/23/2021) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called for an independent investigation of an incident in which correctional officers allegedly threw away an inmate’s belongings, including legal documents, clothes and a Quran – Islam’s revealed text — in the Baltimore Pre-Trial Facility in Jessup (BPTFJ).

The inmate reports that while he was handcuffed, correctional officers threw away his legal papers, case and trial research preparation, an Arabic Quran, Islamic and religious research and material, court transcripts, complaint forms, and some articles of clothing.

He said that one of the officers, about whom he had previously filed complaints, threatened him with riot control fogger spray, which could be lethal for the inmate due to his asthma and inflamed tonsils. The inmate was not permitted to have his attorney or family members retrieve the items. 

When the inmate complained about the trashing of his personal belongings and the Quran, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) denied his claims.

In a statement, the director of CAIR’s Maryland Office Zainab Chaudry said:

“CAIR is calling for an independent investigation into the alleged abusive actions of the Maryland correctional officers named in the compliant to our organization. The confiscation and desecration of an inmate’s important legal materials, personal belongings and sacred items is unacceptable and constitutes a gross violation of civil and human rights.

“The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services’ response to the inmate’s complaint regarding this incident has been inadequate. This Muslim incarceree has previously filed complaints about one of the officers involved in this incident, emphasizing the need for a thorough and complete investigation.”

She noted that CAIR has previously filed lawsuits against state prison systems for abuses of Muslim inmates.

SEE: CAIR to Offer Oral Arguments in Ninth Circuit in Washington State Prison Ramadan Case

SEE: CAIR Sues Arkansas Prison System for Refusing to Provide Islamic Religious Services

In May, CAIR and Seddiq Law announced the filing of a First Amendment lawsuit against Maryland’s Prince George’s County and the Prison Ministry of America on behalf of Imam Edrees Bridges, who wanted a job as a chaplain in the Prince George’s County Jail only to find out that the position was open to Christians only.

SEE: CAIR, Seddiq Law File Complaint Against Maryland County and Prison Ministry of America for Requiring Jail Chaplain to Be Christian

CAIR also 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.

SEE: A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices

CAIR’s 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 Office in Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry, 410-971-6062, zchaudry@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com 

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