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CAIR-MI Welcomes Settlement with Michigan Department of Corrections on Religious Discrimination Against Muslim Clergy

(FARMINGTON HILLS, MI, 10/10/2018) – The Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights advocacy group, today welcomed a settlement reached with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) on behalf of a Muslim woman who was attempting to obtain clergy status at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility.

In April 2018, CAIR-MI filed a Michigan Department of Civil Rights Complaint (MDCR) complaint against the MDOC when it denied Marna Muhammad status as qualified clergy at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Mich., despite Mohammed providing proof of her qualifications in accordance with the Department of Corrections own guidelines. In response to CAIR-MI filing the complaint, Muhammad was granted clergy status, and has been visiting Muslim women in the facility on a regular basis. 

Today, CAIR-MI is pleased to announce that it has settled the civil rights complaint with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Settlement was reached when MDOC took corrective action by granting Muhammad status as qualified clergy and apologized for failing to process her initial application pursuant to their own guidelines. Furthermore, the settlement resulted in an overall change of the MDOC Policy Directives.

The changes to the MDOC Policy Directives now take into consideration the ways in which Muslims obtain status as clergy within their own communities and allow the MDOC to take those factors into consideration when evaluating applications for clergy status. The new directives further remove language requiring Muslim clergy to obtain an “ecclesiastical endorsement,” which is a status that is not recognized within the Muslim Faith.

“We are pleased that the Michigan Department of Corrections has taken this corrective action, which will surely allow more Muslims housed within MDOC’s facilities to have their religious needs administered by ensuring that Muslim Clergy are welcome in those facilities.” said CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Amy Doukoure.

She said 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.

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

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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MI Staff Attorney-Amy V. Doukoure (586) 943-8823; CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid (248) 842-1418

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