A Muslim man at a Texas prison sued local and federal authorities for not allowing him to observe the religious month of Ramadan.
Mohammad Yahya was brought back to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia last year and subsequently charged with federal wire fraud charges. Yahya was convicted of taking money from investors for his business, Tyler Automax, and transferring it to his personal account. He was arrested upon his return and placed in a county jail.
According to Yahya’s case, he was not allowed to observe Ramadan in traditional fashion, which includes food deprivation.
“In this particular case, not only is there the constitutional right, our belief is the contract that the jail has for federal prisoners specifically required them to do this,” Yahya’s attorney, Charles Swift, said. He had planned to participate in the fasting, but prison officials refused to allow him to do so.
“It's very important, it's not just something we make up. It's what our religion is based on,” Longview Islamic Center Imam Saleem Shabazz said. Yahya reportedly submitted 11 different requests for food to be delivered in accordance with Ramadan traditions.
“Whoever is fighting this is actually 'whistling going past the graveyard.' You know, get out of the way and let it happen,” Shabazz said. Cited in Yahya’s lawsuit is a quote directly from a federal handbook.
“Written policies and procedures exist for providing a reasonable opportunity for detainees who request a diet to observe their religious dietary practice (religious fasts, seasonal observances, Ramadan or Passover),” it read.
“Generally, the people that run the facilities will make some accommodations, because they know of the importance of Ramadan in a Muslim's life,” Shabazz said.
Overall, Swift just wants to make sure that things like this don’t happen to anyone else. “We are seeking to ensure, primarily, that this doesn't happen again,” he said.
“Tell him to trust in the system, because in the past they have found that they have to make accommodations of some sort," Shabazz added.
Source: KLTV /Photo Credit: kltv.com, WikiCommons