Ramadan Behind Bars – Ensuring Prisoner’s Rights are Fulfilled

by Samantha Noyes – Civil Rights Coordinator

Tuesday, July 9th marked the beginning of Ramadan, the month of fasting from sun up to sun down for Muslims. Muslims in the U.S. wake up before sunrise to enjoy a large breakfast before their day of fasting begins. But not everyone is so lucky. On Thursday July 11th, CAIR-Arizona was contacted by the family of a detainee at a local detention center concerned about his brother and other Muslims who were not receiving their breakfast meal before Fajr prayer, or Morning Prayer, to prepare them for fasting.

Knowing the time-sensitivity of this issue, we quickly contacted the detention center explaining the religious importance of the holy month of Ramadan to Muslims and the time frames during the day in which they need to receive their meals.  An officer responded quickly to our request and insured us this issue would be taken care of. He thanked CAIR for taking the time to explain the importance of fasting for the men during Ramadan, and gave assurance that he would consistently check to see that this request was being honored throughout the month.

We were able to follow up with the family of the inmate who brought this issue to CAIR-AZ’s attention expressed gratitude by saying, “I can’t thank CAIR-AZ enough for helping these guys!”

Our goal as a chapter is to ensure that inalienable rights such as these are protected – and this highlights the importance of keeping the rights of prisoners are protected as well.  As a community, this segment of the population often tends to get overlooked – however it is important to note that there is a rapid growth in reports of religious based discrimination or civil rights violations within a prison setting.  In cases such as the one we just highlighted, thankfully a simple conversation was able to rectify the issue and create an opportunity for education on the part of the facility.  Even though these requests seem simple in nature, it can make a world of difference in the life of a Muslim inmate.  This is why CAIR-AZ does the work that we do.