JANUARY 31, 2014
Should Americans pay the extra cost of providing Muslim prison inmates with special meals prepared according to Islamic law? The federal government does it and so do a few states, but not Florida and a U.S.-based terrorist front group is demanding a change.
It’s one of those only-in-America stories that tarnish the country’s image, not to mention diminish its dignity. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which pretends to be a Muslim civil rights group, is ordering Florida prison officials to offer Muslim inmates halal meals, which would cost taxpayers in the Sunshine State a lot more than the regular jailhouse cuisine.
Federal inmates already get the accommodation and so do convicted felons in some states, such as Pennsylvania and California, which spends an additional half a million dollars a year to purchase the halal meals for Muslim prisoners. Florida has resisted any religious meal accommodation so the Obama administration sued the state on behalf of Jewish convicts demanding Kosher meals, which cost four times as much.
“By refusing to offer Kosher meals the Florida Department of Corrections forces hundreds of its prisoners to violate their core religious beliefs on a daily basis, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act of 2000,” according the Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint. The Clinton-era law protects the religious exercise of persons confined to institutions and prohibits a state or local government from “substantially burdening” that right.
Not surprisingly, a Clinton-appointed federal judge agreed with the Obama administration and ordered Florida to “provide a certified Kosher diet to all prisoners with a sincere religious basis for keeping Kosher” no later than July 2014. In the order the judge, Patricia Seitz, mentions the “number and diversity” of organizations that urged the state to provide inmates with a Kosher diet “further demonstrates the strong public interest at stake in this litigation.” Among them are the usual suspects like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other less known groups like the Hindu-American Foundation and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
CAIR celebrated the ruling and used it as an opportunity to call for “Islamically permissible” food to be served to all Muslim inmates in Florida. In a statement issued this month, the executive director of CAIR’s Florida headquarters says the Kosher ruling is “an important step in protecting the religious rights of incarcerated individuals” and that it’s only “fair and equitable” that if Jewish inmates get Kosher food, Muslim inmates should have access to halal meals. Florida officials needn’t worry about a thing because CAIR says in its press release that Muslim businesses are ready to provide “advice and services needed to provide halal meals to inmates.”
How convenient. Halal is an Arabic term for lawful under Islamic code. This means that pork is prohibited and all meat must come from animals that are ritually slaughtered. Allah must be pronounced during the kill and animals must be properly nourished, well rested and not stressed or excited prior to slaughter. A few years ago the Obama administration launched a special program to deliver halal meals to home-bound seniors in Detroit, a city known for its thriving Muslim population.
If Florida prison officials don’t start giving Muslim inmates halal meals, they should prepare for another DOJ lawsuit. CAIR, which has proven to be very influential in the Obama administration, will undoubtedly demand it. The group was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) and was a co-conspirator in a federal terror-finance case involving the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation.
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