Muslim inmates at a Washington state suffered in the holy month of Ramadan, after prison officials denied giving them proper food at sundown and sunset – the only times in which Muslims who fast can eat.
During Ramadan, believers fast from dawn until sunset, which means going without food and water for the most part of the day. The inmates who were observing their fast with improper meals reportedly lost 20 pounds each, according to a lawsuit brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Muslim inmates have been starved and their health is in danger as a result of the Monroe Correctional Complex’s shameful starvation policy,” Lena Masri, CAIR’s litigation director, said in a statement.
Ramadan started on May 16 and since then, the prisoners have been fasting without proper nutrition. With just days left for the Muslim holy month to end, a Washington judge ruled that inmates must receive Ramadan meals.
“We welcome the federal court’s swift intervention, which will bring this health crisis to an end and ensure that Muslim inmates are not starved and brutalized for practicing the fundamental principles of their faith,” said Masri.
Earlier, disturbing reports revealed inmates were forced to eat pork during the one meal they got each day during Ramadan. Pork is forbidden in Islam and a believer observing fast would never eat it.
According to CAIR’s complaint, Muslim inmates were required to sign up for Ramadan meals by the end of January. If any inmate missed the deadline, they were required to get permission from the chaplains to eat. However, one plaintiff, Jeremy Livingston, who arrived at the prison in March, was denied Ramadan meals.
Some of the inmates reportedly only had snacks throughout the month. Inmates were not allowed to store food in their cells during the night. “Muslim inmates are simply asking for the right to practice their religion while incarcerated,” said Jasmin Samy, civil rights director of CAIR’s Washington chapter. “To deny them is discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
Prison officials imposed an “irreparable injury” to the Muslim inmates after failing to provide them with adequate food for following their religious believes, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton wrote in his ruling.
He said the facility is now required to provide the inmates with a balanced nutritional diet containing between 2,600 and 2,800 calories on each remaining day of Ramadan.
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