Press Releases

CAIR Reminds Prisons, Jails Nationwide to Provide Ramadan Meal Accommodations

Civil rights group issues national reminder after jails in Virginia and Mississippi failed to accommodate Ramadan meals 

(WASHINGTON D.C., 4/12/2022) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today issued a reminder to jails and prisons nationwide that they must provide religious accommodations for Muslim inmates during the holy month of Ramadan following complaints of civil rights violations in Virginia and Mississippi.   

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. Muslims eat a breakfast meal (called suhoor) before dawn. Prisons and jails across the nation normally accommodate fasting inmates by providing specially timed meals early in the morning and at sunset. 

Over the past week, CAIR has received complaints from incarcerated Muslims at a Virginia prison and a Mississippi jail who allege that their respective institutions failed to provide inmates meals on time before dawn or after sunset, forcing inmates to choose between not eating or violating their religious duty to fast.   

In Virginia, inmates alleged that they did not receive evening meals at all for two days and that their breakfast meals arrived too late for them to eat. In Mississippi, inmates received their breakfast meals too late. 

CAIR contacted both jails to demand immediate accommodations, and both facilities agreed to address the issue. 

In a statement, CAIR Deputy Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said: 

“We remind prisons and jails nationwide that they have a clear legal obligation to accommodate Muslim inmates who fast during Ramadan by providing them with meals at proper times. Failure to do so violates the constitutional rights of Muslims and endangers their health. We encourage any prison officials with questions about accommodating Ramadan to contact us or read our guide on upholding Islamic religious practices in prison settings.” 

Mitchell noted that in 2018, CAIR traveled to Alaska and filed a successful emergency lawsuit against Anchorage Correctional Complex officials on behalf of Muslim inmates who were being denied food at proper times and allegedly fed pork as they observed Ramadan. 

SEE: CAIR Files Emergency Lawsuit on Behalf of Muslim Inmates in Alaska Being ‘Starved’ and Fed Pork During Ramadan 

CAIR reached an agreement with the Alaska’s attorney general that requires Muslim inmates observing Ramadan be provided with adequate nutrition. 

SEE: CAIR, Alaska AG Reach Agreement on Feeding Muslim Inmates During Ramadan 

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. 

SEEA Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, 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 National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530e-Mitchell@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726ihooper@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison, 202-770-6280iallison@cair.com   

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