Monday, October 3, 2011

Muslim Death Row inmate sues over meal preparation

A Muslim death row inmate says the Ohio prison system is denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law, but is 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, 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."
A judge has given lawyers and inmates for the state until next month to finish filing documents before January trial.

Awkal, 52, is scheduled to die in June for killing his estranged wife, Latife Awkal, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul.