American Taliban John Walker Lindh’s lawyers petitioned a federal judge on Wednesday to find the Federal Bureau Of Prisons in contempt for not allowing the Muslim inmates perform group prayers five times a day.
Lindh has been living in a secret prison facility in Indiana with convicted terrorists and other inmates who get special monitoring.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyers for Lindh claim that the Indiana federal prison is defying Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson's court orders she issued in January this year. The ruling acknowledged that it is mandatory upon Muslims to pray together five times a day. But the Indiana prison officials are not letting the concerned inmates pray even twice a day and sometimes they make it impossible for them to pray at all. The prison has intentionally and knowingly established such a procedure that doesn’t allow the Muslim prisoners to come together and perform their prayers which is their fundamental and legal right.
The prison officials’ excuse for not letting the Muslim detainees gather in one place, even for prayers, is that John Walker Lindh and his inmates are considered as ‘extreme security risks’. By allowing all of them to meet five times a day everyday could prove to be dangerous since they would then have sufficient time to plot and scheme.
This kind of treatment towards inmates regarding their religious practices violates a 1993 law banning the government from curtailing religious speech and this point was highlighted by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson during her ruling.
The lawsuit demanding the right to pray five times a day was originally filed by two Muslim inmates in 2009 at the prison. It gained more attention when American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh joined the lawsuit in 2010. And now the case has intensified as the ACLU lawyers have filed its contempt motion in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis demanding the officials of the prison to appear in court.
The proper way to perform prayers, especially for Muslim men, is to form a sort of congregation. The Muslim inmates who have to pray alone in their cells are demanding their legal right to execute their religious practices in an appropriate manner. To deprive selected prisoners of their religious freedom is a clear violation of law.