Florida Detention Center Denies Incarcerated Muslims’ Right to Observe Ramadan

Civil Rights Advocates Petition Glades County Detention Center to Follow Law

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigrant Justice called on Florida law enforcement officials to immediately rectify discriminatory and abusive practices at a Florida immigration detention facility that are preventing Muslim detainees from practicing their faith and observing the holy month of Ramadan.

Officials at the Glades County Detention Center (GCDC) have enacted a number of discriminatory policies and practices that make it difficult, and often impossible, for the Muslim individuals detained in the facility to practice their faiths and observe Ramadan. Officials regularly deny detainees access to halal food and other religious items, and frequently cancel weekly congregational prayer services. These practices are preventing Muslim detainees from exercising their faith and are clear violations of federal and state law.

In a letter addressed to the Miami Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, Muslim Advocates and Americans for Immigrant Justice called on GCDC to “place requesting individuals on the Ramadan list, provide hot sanitary, nutritionally adequate meals to all Muslim detainees who wish to participate, and make plans for an Eid al-Fitr special meal to mark the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan.” The letter also asks GCDC to address other free exercise violations and to ensure that staff do not create an environment that is hostile to Muslim detainees. You can find the letter here.

Every year, Muslims across the world mark this occasion by fasting from food and water between sunrise and sunset. Before dawn, they eat one meal (suhoor), and after sunset, they break their fast with another meal (iftar). Fasting and prayer are two of the five tenets of Islam and are integral to the Islamic faith.

“All of us are guaranteed the freedom to worship, but GCDC is denying that basic right to the people in their custody,” said Yusuf Saei, Yale Law School Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellow at Muslim Advocates. “People who are incarcerated at GCDC have the right to observe Ramadan, and the detention center must act immediately to rectify these violations.”

“We continue to see the utter failure of local jails like Glades in providing basic and fundamental human rights to the immigration detainees in their custody,” said Lisa Lehner, Senior Litigation Attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice. “Whether it is adequate medical care, access to attorneys or the ability to worship, facilities like Glades are unable or unwilling to properly accommodate the immigrant population.”

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.

Americans for Immigrant Justice is an award-winning non-profit law firm that protects and promotes the basic human rights of immigrants. In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; and speaks for immigrant groups who have particular and compelling claims to justice.