Press Releases

Muslim Group Seeks Medical, Religious Rights for VA Detainee

(WASHINGTON D.C., 3/25/08) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on state and federal authorities to investigate whether a Muslim woman facing deportation in Virginia is being denied proper medical treatment and the right to wear religiously-mandated attire.
According to the Muslim detainee’s family, she has been denied the right to wear an Islamic headscarf (hijab) and is not receiving adequate medical care for renal, liver and mental health problems that require immediate treatment. She is being held at Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Va., pending deportation to Ethiopia.
“All those held in American prisons or detention facilities deserve proper medical care and the freedom to practice their faith,” said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili.
She noted that the Virginia Department of Corrections Division Operating Procedure (856), attachment 3A, states that an inmate is allowed a “religious hat or head covering” if its maximum length is to the shoulder and does not cover the face. Department policies also require that inmates be given proper health care while in custody.
In a letter to Gene M. Johnson, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, Al-Khalili asked that the Muslim detainee be allowed to wear her religious headscarf and be provided with proper medical care. She also requested that the detainee not face retaliation and that the staff of Hampton Roads Regional Jail be offered diversity training.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail:; CAIR Strategic Communications Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, E-Mail:


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