Muslims claim discrimination because Riverside Regional Jail in Virginia denies them access to religious materials and clergy.
Muslims are claiming discrimination in a Virginia jail because officials allegedly gave Christians special treatment there.
Specifically, the Muslims claim discrimination because a ministry gave Christian prisoners Bibles and writing materials. In addition, Muslims claim discrimination because jailers set up the God Pod, a special accommodation area for Christians, Vice claims.
“It’s a systematic attempt to favor one religion over another,” Gaider Abbas says of the God Pod. Abbas works as an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR is litigating a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Muslim prisoners. Additionally, Muslims claim discrimination because the jail denies them access to religious materials and clergy.
Muslims Claim Discrimination Because Of The God Pod
“The God Pod is the crown jewel in that effort, but the suppression of Islamic education opportunities is a reflection of the facility’s really broad commitment to favoring one faith over another,” Abbas alleges.
To clarify, the God Pod is a special area in Virginia’s Riverside Regional Jail that houses 30 to 40 Christian prisoners. Abbas further claims that the jail gives Christian prisoners more freedom and greater resources than their Muslim counterparts.
Furthermore, Muslim prisoners claim discrimination because the jail does not allow them to attend Koran study. On the other hand, Abbas charges that Christian prisoners are allowed to attend Bible study at Riverside.
Muslims Claim Discrimination Because Of Unheated Meals
Also, Muslims claim discrimination because the jail did not give them special meals during the Ramadan holiday. In detail, Ramadan is a month-long fast Muslims celebrate every year.
Moreover, Muslims claim discrimination because jail staff did not cater to their demands. For example, Muslim prisoner Mitchell Young claims discrimination because the jail did not heat his meals during Ramadan.
Young asserts that guards deliberately served Ramadan meals at the wrong time of day. To elaborate, Muslims can only eat at certain times of the day during Ramadan.
Notwithstanding, Vice states that jails across the country make special accommodations for Muslim prisoners.
Muslims Claim Discrimination Because Of Bibles In Jail
Oddly enough, Abbas feels that the Riverside jail is discriminating against Muslims by letting a ministry provide Bibles for prisoners.
Particularly, Abbas alleges that the jail administration favors the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry over Muslims. Good News provides chaplains along with other resources to jails.
In fact, the senior chaplain at the Riverside Regional Jail, Joe Collins, works for Good News.
“They’re really clear about what their goals are: to bring the Bible to every inmate,” Abbas says of Good News. Notably, CAIR is suing correctional facilities all over the United States for working with Good News, Vice reports.
Muslims Say That God Pod Violates First Amendment
Furthermore, Abbas charges that the jail gives prisoners who claim to live by the Bible special treatment in the God Pod. In particular, Abbas thinks the God Pod is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s purported separation of church and state.
“There’s no reason to religiously segregate inmates and it violates a really core principle of the First Amendment that government can’t favor or disfavor any faith,” Abbas concludes.
Yet, Abbas did not say how many Muslim prisoners reside in the Riverside Regional Jail, which is located in Prince George, Virginia. Finally, Abbas did not mention if officials will have to build an “Allah Pod” to protect Muslims from discrimination.
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