Los Angeles, 2 Rabiul Awwal 1434/14 January 2013 (MINA) – A US federal judge has granted a jailed American Muslim the right to perform daily congregational prayers.
US District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ordered officials in the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to allow John Walker Lindh to perform congregational prayers with other Muslim inmates, OnIslam.net was quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting. Monday (14/1).
Earlier, Prison officials cited security reasons for banning inmates from getting together five times a day for prayers, but the judge ruled that the ban violated a federal law protecting the religious rights of inmates.
Lindh who was born in the United States has been in prison since 2002 and serving a 20-year prison sentence for fighting in Afghanistan, was banned from performing group prayers with other inmates.
Lindh, who is dubbed “American Taliban”, has complained that the ban on the daily group prayer violated his right to practice his religion. The US judge backed his argument, saying that Lindh was now a “low-risk” inmate and had committed only minor, nonviolent infractions.
The judge said other prisoners are permitted to be out of their cells most of the day and can play cards, watch television and exercise. “While no disruptive episodes have occurred in the [unit] as a result of small group prayers, a fight has occurred over a remote control and one has occurred when the victim was reading,” the judge said.
The ruling, which came in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Lindh, said the prison had sophisticated audio and video surveillance equipment in place for monitoring prisoner activities.
The judge gave the prison warden 60 days to come up with a new policy for Muslim prayers.(T/R-010/R-006)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)