Judge sides with Virginia prison system in lawsuit by Muslim inmate who wanted 1/8-inch beard

Court sides with Va. in not allowing Muslim inmate’s beard. Virginia’s prison system did not violate a Muslim inmate’s religious rights when it refused to allow him to grow a 1/8-inch beard, which he believes is required by his religion, a federal judge has ruled.

William Couch, a 50-year-old Sunni Muslim, is a medium-security prisoner serving multiple life sentences for rape and other convictions. He challenged the Virginia Department of Corrections’ grooming policy, which bans long hair and beards.

Virginia is among only about a dozen states that limit the length of inmates’ hair and beards, according to the American Correctional Chaplains Association. A handful of those allow religious accommodations for Rastafarians, Muslims, Sikhs, native Americans and others whose religious beliefs prohibit shaving or cutting their hair.

There is no hair policy for federal prisoners.

Shia-Sunni cemetery to open in the Greater Toronto Area in the fall

Toronto Star – January 31, 2011

A Shia-Sunni Muslim cemetery — the first of its kind in the GTA — is in the works in Richmond Hill, Ontario and could be operational by fall. The Shia and Sunni communities in the GTA bought the 14-hectare site at the southwest corner of Bethesda Sideroad and Leslie St., from Beth Olam Cemetery Corp., for $6.8 million, says Abdulhuq Ingar, who represents the Sunnis’ Islamic Society of Toronto.

The cemetery will cost about another $2 million in development and overhead costs, says Sabi Ahsan, a Shia Muslim who helped coordinate the deal, which he described as a “positive accomplishment” for the Shia and Sunni communities. The land had “become surplus” for the Beth Olam group, he says, which has other cemeteries. The Shia and Sunni Muslims will operate independently as part of the Toronto Muslim Cemetery Corp. and will share resources to minimize costs and maintain the property.

Most Muslims have been buried in sections of non-denominational cemeteries in the GTA, according to certain key requirements such as being buried within 24 hours of their death and having their body washed and buried in a shroud with their face turned toward Mecca. But because of traditional cemeteries’ operating hours, meeting some of those requirements has been problematic.

Canadian Muslims Erect First Minaret in the Arctic

News Agencies – October 27, 2010

Canadian Muslims have erected the Arctic’s first minaret, atop a little yellow mosque which serves as spiritual home to the area’s fledgling Islamic community. The prefabricated mosque arrived in Inuvik in September to serve a growing Muslim population in Canada’s far north, after traveling 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) over land and water. The minaret — built locally and installed this week — has four levels and stands 30 feet (10 meters) off the ground.
The number of Muslims in Inuvik, a town of 4,000 inhabitants in Canada’s Northwest Territories, has grown steadily in recent years to about 80 and they no longer fit in an old three-by-seven-meter (10-by-23-foot) caravan used until now for prayers. The worshippers — largely Sunni Muslim immigrants from Sudan, Lebanon and Egypt who moved to Canada’s far north in search of jobs and economic opportunities — are to hold an open house on November 5.

UK judge convicts Kurd of “honour killing” daughter

A Kurdish father was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering his 15-year-old daughter because she fell in love with a follower of a different branch of Islam.

A London judge gave Mehmet Goren, 49, a minimum 22-year prison sentence for his so-called “honour killing” of daughter Tulay, who disappeared a decade ago and was never found. He also was convicted of attacking her boyfriend with an ax.

Prosecutor Damaris Lakin said the fish-and-chip server killed his daughter for having a relationship with a Sunni Muslim. The Gorens adhered to the Alevi branch of the faith, which is linked to the Shiite sect of Islam.