But fear not. The courts are on the case. “Muslim Rivalry Hits New York Prisons,” by Joseph Goldstein in the New York Sun (thanks to Irish Infidel):
The rivalry and violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims isn’t just limited to Iraq. It is increasingly found in one place presumed shut off from the influence of faraway sectarian politics: New York’s state prisons.
In the last two decades, the state’s Muslim inmates, who number 7,987, have been increasingly identifying as either Sunni or Shiite, a phenomenon that prison chaplains elsewhere say is most pronounced in New York. Shiite inmates, who make up less than 4% of the Muslims incarcerated here, have long reported religious persecution by the Sunni-dominated Muslim chaplaincy employed by the state. The Sunni-Shiite divide has played a role in at least one stabbing between inmates in 2004, e-mails by prison officials show.
Shiite inmates have long demanded their own chaplains and a separate place to pray on Fridays, apart from other Muslim inmates. A little-noticed federal court ruling improves the prospects that Shiite inmates will see their demands met.
The recent ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opens the way for a trial in which jurors will weigh the demands of Shiite inmates seeking a separate Friday prayer service against the staffing and logistical concerns of prison officials. The court ruling overturns a court decision by a federal judge in Syracuse, Paul Magnuson, who ruled last year that Shiite Muslims could either pray individually from their cells or join the general Muslim service, which Shiite inmates say is Sunni-dominated. Noting that at least five Shiites are needed for a prayer quorum, Judge Magnuson said there even weren’t likely enough participating Shiite inmates at any facility to constitute a valid communal prayer.
The 2nd Circuit’s decision asks Judge Magnuson to look closer at whether joint prayer with Sunnis impinges on Shiite beliefs and at the prison system’s capacity to accommodate separate prayer services. The three federal judges who sent the case back to Judge Magnuson were Roger Miner, Jose Cabranes, and Paul Crotty.