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CAIR-Florida Welcomes Tallahassee Federal Court Decision Allowing Inmates to Grow Beards for Religious Reasons

(MIAMI, FL, 10/2/19)  The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights advocacy organization, today welcomed a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in Tallahassee ruling that plaintiff Durell Sims, who converted to Islam in 2007, can grow a “fist-length” beard.

The Miami Herald quoted U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s decision that stated, “Mr. Sims is a devout Muslim whose conduct in prison has been exemplary.” Judge Hinkle wrote in the conclusion of his decision, “He wishes to grow a beard in accordance with his religion and doing so would pose no security, misconduct or flight risk. The Department [of Corrections] has not shown that prohibiting him from growing a fist-length beard and trimming his moustache is the least restricted means of furthering a compelling government interest.”

SEE: He’s lost his freedom for life, but he’s won the religious freedom to grow his beard

CAIR-Florida’s Communications Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz stated: “As a civil rights organization, we celebrate this victory and applaud the K & L Gates law firm and the attorneys — Olivia Kelman, Paul Hancock, and Joshua Carpenter — who have secured inmates’ rights to grow their beard and freely practice their faith.

“Inmates should not be burdened with further deprivation of rights that violate constitutional freedoms in the name of security. Judge Hinkle’s decision was comprehensive and informed, and it is the embodiment of fair and balanced judicial oversight.  

“We celebrate this important decision for the protection of the inmates’ religious beliefs.”

CAIR-Florida is the State’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-Florida es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.


CONTACT: CAIR-Florida Communications Director Wilfredo A. Ruiz, 954.272.0490 Ext 130,



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