May 25, 2018 (DESPARDES) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced filing a lawsuit in federal court in Alaska, against Anchorage Correctional Complex officials on behalf of Muslim inmates who CAIR says are being “starved” and fed pork as they observe Ramadan. Muslims are prohibited by their faith from consuming pork products.
In addition to the lawsuit, CAIR also filed an emergency motion to request the federal court’s immediate intervention and asking for a hearing as soon as possible.
Officials at the Anchorage Correctional Complex have provided Muslim inmates with less than half the calories they require — as little as 500 calories on some days – which amounts to a starvation diet, it has emerged.
CAIR filed the lawsuit yesterday in the US District Court for the District of Alaska claiming violation of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment prohibitions against “cruel and unusual punishment,” violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and violation of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and free exercise of religion.
The suit seeks a “balanced nutritional diet” for the inmates, policy changes and compensatory and punitive damages.
“The Constitution and Congress forbid prisons from compelling inmates to choose between their faith and food,” said National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “We hope that a court will do what Anchorage Correctional Complex officials will not: ensure that Muslim inmates are not starved or forced to violate the principles of their faith during the holy month of Ramadan.”
“This prison is violating federal law specifically crafted to protect the religious freedom of prisoners, as well as the Constitution. Without immediate intervention, officials will continue their illegal conduct,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer.