(MONTGOMERY, AL, 2/1/2019) – The Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Alabama) today called on that state to grant the religious accommodation request of Domineque “Hakim” Ray to have a Muslim chaplain (Imam) present at his execution.
[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: https://tinyurl.com/DeathPenaltyMoratorium ]
At Ray’s request, the state recently agreed to not have a Christian prison chaplain present as is customary for inmates on death row. But officials have refused to allow a religious leader from his faith community to be at his side during the execution. A judge is expected to rule on the issue today.
SEE: Alabama Agrees to Nix Christian Chaplain in Muslim Inmate’s Execution
Judge to Rule Friday In Case on Death Row Inmate’s Muslim Spiritual Adviser
“Mr. Ray is asking for the same thing that every other inmate on death row is afforded — for a spiritual advisor to be present with him in his last moments,” said Ali Massoud, government affairs coordinator for CAIR-Alabama.
Massoud added that access to a spiritual advisor in the execution room should not favor one faith above another, and for the state to deny this reasonable, straightforward last request would be a violation of Ray’s religious rights.
Ray’s lawyer, Spencer Hahn, questioned why the state does not provide a Muslim chaplain to fulfill this role for Muslim inmates.
Yusef Maisonet, Ray’s Imam, said that the case was “not about delaying the execution but simply making sure it happens in a dignified way” that is respectful to Ray and his sincerely-held religious beliefs.
Another Imam, Wali Rahman, expressed frustration at the “systemic nature of religious inequality,” pointing out that the State had encountered Muslim inmates on death row before, but had not granted religious accommodation requests for them in the way that it had for Christian inmates.
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 misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: Ali Massoud, government affairs coordinator for CAIR-Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com