SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – The Michigan Department of Corrections is being sued by a civil rights group on behalf of Muslim inmates.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says Muslim inmates aren’t being given an adequate diet during the annual month-long fast of Ramadan. The lawsuit claims Muslim inmates receive less than half the calories that other inmates receive.
The suit also challenges a policy that allegedly prevents Muslims from maintaining their religiously-mandated “halal” diet — the Muslim equivalent of Kosher.
“The Michigan Department of Corrections’ Ramadan policy is discriminatory and subjects Muslim inmates participating in the Ramadan fast to cruel and unusual punishment by denying them a proper nutritional and caloric diet on a daily basis,” said CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, in a statement.
All of this, according to the suit, amounts to the plaintiffs having been “deprived of their constitutionally protected rights.”
– View a copy of the suit (.pdf format) –
There was no immediate comment from state prison officials.
Muslims believe Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, self‐improvement, and increased devotion and worship. During that month,
Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown by, among other things, abstaining from eating and drinking from sunup to sundown daily.
This year, Ramadan begins in early July.
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, offers an educational toolkit, called “A Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices,” to help correctional officers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. (Check it out here).