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Old 06-24-2009, 02:14 PM   #1
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ACLU Sues Prison Over Limits On Muslim Prayer

ACLU sues prison over limits on Muslim prayer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Muslim inmates held in a special unit at the federal prison in Terre Haute say they aren't allowed to pray in groups as often as their religion commands and have asked a federal judge to ease worship limits imposed by the Bureau of Prisons.

The prison in western Indiana houses several high-security inmates, including American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh, who is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding Afghanistan's now-defunct Taliban government.

The June 16 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana challenges limits on Islamic worship in the prison's restrictive Communications Management Unit, where about 30 of the 40 inmates are Muslim.

Muslims are required to pray five times a day, but the lawsuit, filed on behalf of inmates Enaam Arnaout and Randall T. Royer, says inmates in the CMU are allowed to pray as a group just one hour a week. The ACLU claims that violates a federal law barring the government from restricting religious activities without showing a compelling need.

The lawsuit echoes a 2007 complaint from convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid that he was denied access to group prayer at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo.

The Indiana lawsuit is one of two the ACLU has filed in the past week concerning conditions in the CMU. Its other lawsuit claimed the unit was created in secrecy and keeps its mostly Muslim inmates in virtual isolation.

A Justice Department spokesman said last week that the government followed federal rules in creating the special unit in November 2006. Designed to house prisoners who require additional security, the unit closely monitors inmates' outside contacts.

Bureau of Prisons officials declined Tuesday comment on the prayer lawsuit.

Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, questioned policies allowing prisoners out of their cells to watch television, play cards or engage in other group activities but limiting group worship to one hour on Fridays.

"That means four people can sit around the table playing cards or talking about the basketball game but they can't worship," Falk said.

The lawsuit asks the Bureau of Prisons to reinstate daily prayers that were held in a multipurpose room for several months after the CMU opened.

Louay Safi, director of leadership development with the Plainfield-based Islamic Society of North America, said Muslims try to pray in groups whenever possible.

"Muhammad said there is a much greater reward for people who pray in congregation than those who pray individually," he said.

Arnaout, 46, a Syrian-born U.S. citizen, is serving a 10-year sentence for racketeering after admitting in 2003 that he defrauded donors to his Benevolence International Foundation by diverting some of the money to Islamic military groups in Bosnia and Chechnya.

Royer, 36, a former spokesman for the Muslim American Society, is serving 20 years for his participation in what prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network." The group used paintball games in 2000 and 2001 as military training in preparation for holy war against nations deemed hostile to Islam, prosecutors say.
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Old 06-24-2009, 02:21 PM   #2
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Haven't we already determined that the ACLU are a communist group?


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"That means four people can sit around the table playing cards or talking about the basketball game but they can't worship," Falk said.
This pretty much sums up my "why not?" thinking.
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:49 PM   #3
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What's wrong with just praying in their cells?
And maybe the "greater reward" should be for the good people who honor their religion and are able to congregate freely. Not the ones who end up in jail. They can just make do.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:19 PM   #4
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Haven't we already determined that the ACLU are a communist group?


No. Libertarian.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hobo13 View Post
What's wrong with just praying in their cells?
And maybe the "greater reward" should be for the good people who honor their religion and are able to congregate freely. Not the ones who end up in jail. They can just make do.
Then you want to take away all group time?
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:54 PM   #6
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We're talking about people in prison, right?
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:57 PM   #7
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Muslims are required to pray five times a day, but the lawsuit, filed on behalf of inmates Enaam Arnaout and Randall T. Royer, says inmates in the CMU are allowed to pray as a group just one hour a week.

The lawsuit asks the Bureau of Prisons to reinstate daily prayers that were held in a multipurpose room for several months after the CMU opened.
So are the inmates asking for once a day or five times a day ?
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hobo13 View Post
We're talking about people in prison, right?

Yes, but they are allowed group sports, TV time, etc why is the state making an exception?

Either eliminate all group time or allow them to pray.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:32 PM   #9
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Then I say eliminate it all.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:34 PM   #10
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Yes, because solitude confinement is the way to reform.

You are that scared of some Muslims praying that you say eliminate it all?
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:42 PM   #11
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I didn't say eliminate the praying.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:49 PM   #12
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I realize that, but why eliminate all group activities because some would want to use that time to pray?
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:04 PM   #13
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Just seemed like an easy fix.
But now it's back to square one. Why don't they just pray in their cells.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:17 PM   #14
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The ACLU is bringing the lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
Quote:
Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Prisons aren't personal fiefdoms run at the individual warden's whim, and it's not easy to imagine at first glance what this federal prison's rationale for the 'compelling governmental interest' furthered by limiting group prayer specifically might be.
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:19 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hobo13 View Post
Just seemed like an easy fix.
But now it's back to square one. Why don't they just pray in their cells.

And why can't they use that time to pray? Their religion requires group pray, why deny them that but group time for everything else? You don't seem to be following.
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