Muslim Inmates Sue For Islamic Meal Preparation

Muslim inmates in Ohio decided to sue over their meal preparations. Abdul Awkal says the prison is not serving his food according to Islamic law and at the same time they provide kosher plates for Jewish prisoners. He has filed the suit with another death row inmate, Cornelius Causey, in federal court together alleging a civil rights violation.

The Muslim inmates are served the traditional vegetarian and non-pork meal preparation. However, Awkal said that is not enough. The inmates say the food must be prepared in specific fashion, such as ensuring that an animal is butchered by slitting its throat and draining its blood, to conform with Islamic beliefs.

Awkal alleges that the prison system’s failure to provide the proper preparation for a meal and that is a restraint on his religious freedoms.

“The issue of eating Halal meals is especially important to me because I face a death sentence,” he stated in the court documents. “It is important to me that I follow the requirements of my faith as I approach death.”

Both Awkal and Causey are serving sentences for murder and one of the inmates is being scheduled to be executed in June of next year. He killed his estranged wife and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz in 1992, in a room in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

Causey is currently serving a 15 years to life sentence for murder and aggravated robbery.

Ohio is arguing that it provides the meal preparation as guidelined in the states courts. “The complete restructuring of ODRC’s food service administration and preparation, at a cost of millions to the State of Ohio during fiscal crisis, is at stake,” Ryan Dolan, an assistant attorney general, argued in a court filing.