Abdul Awkal is in prison. He is in prison for murder. Ordinarily prisons are not dedicated to the convenience of their inmates. But before Islamic law, everything must bend. “Ohio Muslim inmates sue over meal preparation,” by Andrew Welsh-Higgins for the Associated Press, October 3 (thanks to all who sent this in):
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) “” A Muslim death row inmate says the Ohio prison system is denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law while at the same time providing kosher meals to Jewish prisoners, according to a federal lawsuit that alleges a civil rights violation.
Condemned inmate Abdul Awkal says the prison system’s failure to provide halal meals is a restraint on his religious freedoms.
Awkal, joined by a second inmate not on death row, says the vegetarian and non-pork options offered by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction aren’t good 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.
“The issue of eating Halal meals is especially important to me because I face a death sentence,” Awkal said in a filing in federal court earlier this year. “It is important to me that I follow the requirements of my faith as I approach death.”…
Awkal, 52, is scheduled to die in June for killing his estranged wife, Latife Awkal, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz in 1992, in a room in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court….
Ohio argues that it provides both non-pork and vegetarian meals to Muslims and says the courts have sided with this practice. The state also says that providing halal meals could hurt Ohio financially, given the current budget situation….
For Muslim inmates, prison rules say, “The diet will be free of all pork and products containing or derived from pork. The institution will provide nutritionally adequate meat and non-meat alternatives.”…
California provides packaged kosher meals to Jewish inmates and halal meals prepared at prisons for Muslim prisoners. Meats used for the halal meals are cooked separately from other prison food, said spokesman Paul Herke.
The state serves about 4,100 halal meals a day at a cost of about $3.50 per day, compared with about $2.90 a day for regular prison meals….
Ohio says requiring halal meals could mean new dietary plans for as many as 2,000 inmates, while Awkal’s lawyers believe the figure is lower because not all Muslims eat halal meals.