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CAIR Says Supreme Court’s Order Allowing Execution of Alabama Muslim Inmate is Threat to the First Amendment

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/8/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals stay on the execution of a Muslim inmate in Alabama who had requested that an Imam, or Islamic religious leader, be present in the death chamber.

Last night, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court vacated the stay on the execution of Domineque “Hakim” Ray. Ray was executed by lethal injection hours later.

CAIR: Alabama Executes Muslim Man Who Wanted an Imam by His Side

[NOTE: CAIR has in the past called for a state and national moratorium on the death penalty because “studies have clearly demonstrated that poor and minority defendants are more likely to be sentenced to death than members of the majority society who have adequate access to legal representation.” SEE: ]

A day before, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had stayed Ray’s execution pending expedited briefing on his strong Establishment Clause claim requesting an Imam. In reversing the stay, the Supreme Court concluded that Ray had waited too long to make his request.

SEE: CAIR Welcomes Stay of Execution for Alabama Muslim Inmate Over Request for Imam

Justice Kagan, joined by four justices, dissented stating: “Ray has put forward a powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death.”

SEE: Elena Kagan In Supreme Court Dissent Says Condemned Jews And Muslims Must Have Choice of Clergy

“This decision is a profound threat to the First Amendment. It is disturbing that the Supreme Court’s procedural ruling elevated finality of  the judicial process over the U.S. Constitution,” said Ali Massoud, government affairs coordinator for CAIR-Alabama

“While in this case it was a Muslim whose rights were tragically violated, the ruling poses a threat to anyone facing execution in Alabama whose religion is different from that of the prison’s Christian chaplain,” said David Gespass, CAIR-Alabama’s board chair.

He said CAIR-Alabama is calling on Alabama officials to change this unconstitutional policy as quickly as possible, to ensure that all death row inmates may be accompanied by their spiritual advisors in the execution chamber.

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.


CONTACT: Ali Massoud, government affairs coordinator for CAIR-Alabama,, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,



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