During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslim inmates in North Carolina are given an opportunity to fast. One Muslim inmate at the Mecklenburg County Jail in North Carolina is suing after he requested the fast, and then became hungry from fasting.
Travaile Speller has sued the jail, claiming that the jail discriminated against his religious practice by giving him two, instead of three meals a day during Ramadan.
“That is clearly depriving me of necessary calories, as well as the recommend(ed) daily volume of nutrients that my body requires to function normally,” Speller wrote in his hand-written complaint. “They are intentionally eliminating one whole meal (lunch) which is cruel and unusual punishment directed towards all Muslims,” the inmate argued.
During Ramadan, which took place between May 15 and June 15 this year, practicing Muslims are only allowed to eat two meals a day before dawn (suhoor) and after sunset (iftar). During the daytime, Muslims who celebrate Ramadan must refrain from eating, drinking, and having sex for an entire month.
The inmate’s lawsuit is so outrageous, it prompted a response from Jibril Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic center of Charlotte. “”They withheld his lunch during Ramadan? They were supposed to withhold it during Ramadan. The jail was doing him a favor and actually respecting his faith,” Hough said.
During Ramadan, Speller received two meals each day, as he requested in an official jail form in which he indicated that he would like to observe the Ramadan fast. On the form, Muslim inmates are told exactly how the Ramadan fast works and when they will receive their meals if they decide to fast.
Speller filed his lawsuit after Ramadan, arguing, “My meals should not be diminished based on my religion, or because of my observance of my religious holiday.”
Speller’s lawsuit is calling for a jury trial, and $250,000 in damages, despite the fact that the jail itself was more compliant with the Ramadan fast than the Muslim inmate who claimed he wanted to observe the holiday himself.
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