COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A decision by Ohio officials to remove all pork products from prison menus in response to a lawsuit by Muslim inmates is not sitting well with the state’s pork producers and processors.
Both promise action of their own, including a possible counter lawsuit, to address what they consider an unfair and illogical decision.
“We really think it’s not in the best interest, frankly, of the whole prison system,” said Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. “It seems like we’re letting a small group make the rules when it really isn’t in the best interest of the rest of prisoners.” Pork is inexpensive and nutritious and compares well to other lean meats, he said.
Ironically, the inmates’ lawsuit doesn’t involve pork at all; it demands that non-pork meats like beef come from animals slaughtered according to Islamic law. But the prisons system responded by simply removing pork as an option altogether.
If Ohio would provide Muslim inmates with pre-packaged meals similar to those given to Jewish inmates, as the lawsuit requests, it wouldn’t be necessary to remove pork from menus, said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which is suing on behalf of the two inmates.
On the other hand, California provides packaged kosher meals to Jewish inmates and halal meals prepared at prisons for Muslim prisoners. While Texas, does serve pork to prisoners, offers Muslim inmates regular, meat-free or pork-free meals but not halal meals.
Christopher Paul, a convicted Ohio terrorist, has had ties to Al-Qaeda according to a federal court ruling. In a fax sent to Paul in 1997, now Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi (an Al-Qaeda operative) sought Paul’s advice on where to send would-be jihadists. The two had met each other in 1992 in Afghanistan and kept contacting each other in 97, 98 and 99. Salahi was arrested in 2001
Despite efforts by courts in Ohio and Florida, Rifqa Bary, a runaway teenager from Ohio says reconciliation with her Muslim family is not possible. Ms. Bary converted from Islam to Christianity and fled home with the alleged assistance of a Christian pastor claiming she would be in danger due to her conversion. Ms. Bary’s attorney argued that the continuing fear of being hurt by her family makes reconciliation impossible.
On December 3, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a Washington DC conference to release its 14th annual report, “Seeking Full Inclusion”. The study reviews the state of civil rights for Muslims in the United States.
The Council on American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR’s) new report will also examine the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election and highlight a number of issues of concern to the American Muslim community, including watch lists, surveillance of mosques and new FBI guidelines that allow religious and ethnic profiling.
The study shows that 80 percent of anti-Muslim incidents occurred in 9 states plus the District of Columbia: California Illinois, New York, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.
Many Muslims today struggle to integrate into Western society, but those in the U.S. are better off than those in Europe, said Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban during a lecture Monday at Ohio State. “Many of the millions of Muslims that have moved to the West wish not to integrate into society,” Ghadban said. As a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Princeton University, Ghadban spoke in a small conference room in Hagerty Hall, with only 15 people in attendance. The lecture, “Islamic Law of Muslim Minorities in the West” was sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. “[Ghadban] is not a traditional scholar,” said Arabic professor Georges Tamer. “He has practical experience that combines Islamic studies with political science and philosophy.” Ghadban said that during their integration to the West, Muslims are confronted with new norms and customs, as well as a new structure of society. Most importantly, they must abide by a secular law system, which they have never or barely been confronted with in their home countries, he said. A third of the 1.2 to 1.4 billion Muslims in the world are minorities in 149 non-Islamic countries, and 25 to 30 million of them live in Western Europe and North America, he said. With the exception of black converts, the majority of Muslims living in the West came to the Western world during the modern migration period of the second half of the 20th century. He said that Muslim immigrants follow Sharia law, which is a form of Islamic justice often criticized for its brutal physical punishments, including flogging and execution by stoning. Sharia punishment is often enforced against women found guilty of offenses such as premarital sex and adultery. Mariam Khan reports.
After the anti-Muslim documentary ‘Obsession’ began being distributed in Ohio, a chemical irritant was sprayed through the window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, during Friday prayers in Dayton, Ohio. About 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service where a room housing babies and children while their parents prayed, was sprayed and gassed. Children immediately felt burning on their faces, and reported feeling sick in their stomach; several were taken to the hospital to be examined. Dayton emergency and HAZMAT personnel arrived on the scene. While a can of pepper spray was found outside the mosque, firefighters and HAZMAT did not detect pepper spray in the air. Dayton police said that there is no indication that the incident was a hate crime, with not enough evidence to make a connection.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on American Muslims to exercise their civic responsibility by taking part in the November presidential elections. CAIR is asking Muslim voters to utilize its ‘Civic Participation Guide’ offering step-by-step advice for working with candidates, elected officials, organizing voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. With large numbers of Muslims in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Michigan, CAIR believes that the American Muslim community will be influential in helping to determine the next president of the United States.
Full-text article available here. (Some news sites may require registration)
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on American Muslims to exercise their civic responsibility by taking part in the November presidential elections. CAIR is asking Muslim voters to utilize its _Civic Participation Guide’ offering step-by-step advice for working with candidates, elected officials, organizing voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. With large numbers of Muslims in swing states such as Ohio, Florida, and Michigan, CAIR believes that the American Muslim community will be influential in helping to determine the next president of the United States.
The US televangelist Rod Parsley, a key John McCain ally and spiritual advisor, called for the eradication of Islam as a false religion. Parsley, the leader of a 12,000-member congregation, has written several books discussing his religion and beliefs. In his book The 2005 Silent No More and a chapter entitled Islam: The Deception of Allah, Parsley warns that there is a war between Islam and Christian civilizations. He also calls Islam an anti-Christ religion and urges the US to launch a new crusade to eradicate Islam. Last month, Republican presidential nominee McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Ohio with Reverent Parsley, in which he called the evangelical minister his spiritual guide.
Ahead of the March 4th presidential primary in Ohio, many Muslims in Ohio are lending their support to Barack Obama. While a large majority of Muslims backed George W. Bush eight years ago, there is strong support among American Muslims coalescing around Obama. Exasperation among Cleveland’s 60,000 Muslims, who are mostly middle-class and naturalize citizens, are feeling frustrated with the on-going war in Iraq, the stigmatization of Islam after September 11th, and hold concern for their civil rights. Shiite Muslims in the Shiite Unity Center supported Bush in 2000 – but now says he is voting for Obama. Though a Christian, many cite his diverse background, and precisely a relatable background, as attractive in the presidential hopeful.