CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Muslim Inmate’s Religious Rights [Press Release]

Muslim inmates in the Jumu'ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Muslim inmates in the Jumu’ah prayer service in the chapel of the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles County during the month of Ramadan. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/20/15) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that a Muslim inmate in Arkansas be permitted to grow a beard in accordance with his religious beliefs.

That decision overturned a state prison policy banning beards. The justices rejected the claim that the policy was needed for security reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito noted that prison officials already search clothing and hair and had not offered a reason they could not search beards as well. Alito wrote: “[I]nterest in eliminating contraband cannot sustain its refusal to allow petitioner to grow a half-inch beard.” “Hair on the head is a more plausible place to hide contraband than a half-inch beard, and the same is true of an inmate’s clothing and shoes,” Alito wrote. “Nevertheless, the department does not require inmates to go about bald, barefoot or naked.”

SEE: Supreme Court Rules for Muslim Inmate Over Prison Beard Policy (Reuters)
Supreme Court Upholds Religious Rights of Prisoners (USA Today)

“We applaud the ruling in this important case, which firmly underscores that courts should not blindly defer when the government invokes ‘security’ as a reason to curtail rights,” said CAIR Civil Rights Litigation Director Jenifer Wicks. “The state has the burden of proving that a compelling government interest justifies its burden on the exercise of religion beliefs and practices. In this case, the court rightfully rejected arguments the growing of a beard in any way harmed prison safety and security.”

Wicks noted that CAIR recently filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief on inmate religious rights with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is considering whether the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) policy requiring direct supervision by a chaplain or outside volunteer of inmates who gather in groups for religious services is unconstitutional.

Late last year, CAIR also filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering whether clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to hire a Muslim woman wearing a religious headscarf (hijab) was discriminatory.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

The CFCM Condemns the Attack Against Charlie Hebdo [Press Release]

“The French Council of the Muslim Faith and French Muslims condemn with the greatest resolve the terrorist attack of exceptional violence committed against Charlie Hebdo. This barbaric act of extreme gravity is also an attack on democracy and freedom of the press.

Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families and we express our complete solidarity during this terrible ordeal.

In an international political circumstance filled with tensions fueled by terrorist groups unfairly claiming Islam as their own, we call on all those who are committed to the Republic’s values and to democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to add fuel to the fire.

Faced with this national tragedy, we call on the Muslim community to exercise the utmost vigilance against any possible manipulations from extremist groups of any kind.”
Dr. Dalil Boubakeur
President of the French Council of the Muslim Faith

Young Man Questioned and Imprisoned Regarding Racist Aggression

An 18 year-old man has been charged with “voluntary violence” related to a physical assault of a French Muslim with took place on the 24th of July in Guyancourt (Yvelines). The man has denied the charges.

According to the victim, Nouredine Rachedi, 30, 2 men requested cigarettes from him and when he responded negatively, they asked whether he was Muslim and what he thought about Yugoslavia. Rachedi claims that when he told the two that he was born in France and a Muslim, that they responded, “We are Nazis!”

The CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France or the Committee Representing the Jewish Institutions of France) publicly denounced aggression and all forms of racism, whether they focus upon « Muslims, Jews, Blacks or whomever. »

See full-text articles:

Islam Pluriel

Islam Pluriel

Libération

CRIF Press Release

Press Release: The Right To Wear Jilbab Should Be Respected

The Muslim Council of Britain views today’s landmark decision in the High Court to deny a fifteen year old Muslim schoolgirl in Luton her right to wear the jilbab to school as very worrying and objectionable. The British Muslim community is a diverse community in terms of the interpretation and understanding of their faith and its practice. Within this broad spectrum those that believe and choose to wear the jilbab and consider it to be part of their faith requirement for modest attire should be respected. “We hope that the family of Miss Shabina Begum will appeal against this ruling. Many other schools have willingly accommodated Muslim schoolgirls wearing the jilbab and have respected the religious practice of their pupils with reference to their attire. While Denbigh High School has accommodated other forms of Islamic dress, for some reason the school has chosen to make jilbab an issue. This should not really have been a concern in a school which has a Muslim pupil composition of almost 90%. Our schools need to respond positively to recognise and reflect the communities they are serving. This particular school opposed the jilbab on health and safety grounds. This appears to us to be a highly spurious justification. How many women have suffered injury because they have chosen to wear the Jilbab in or out of schools?” said Dr Abdul Bari, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. Note for Editors: The arabic word “Jilbab” refers to a loose outer garment that covers the body. The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK’s representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.