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Muslim Advocates Files Amicus Brief Asking Federal Court to Allow Incarcerated Muslim to Join Prayer Session

Yesterday, Muslim Advocates filed an amicus brief in Greenhill v. Clarke, asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to reverse a district court ruling which allowed a Virginia state prison to prevent a Muslim individual from practicing his religion.

Alfonza Greenhill is an observant Muslim, currently incarcerated in Red Onion State Prison. While in segregation from the general population, Mr. Greenhill asked prison officials to participate in weekly congregational prayer services known as Jum’ah. Though prison officials could have easily provided him with closed-circuit television access to the services, they instead denied Mr. Greenhill’s request. Mr. Greenhill filed suit in response, arguing that the prison’s actions violated his rights, but the district court ruled in favor of the prison. Mr. Greenhill filed an appeal with the Fourth Circuit.  

“Religious liberty, enshrined in the First Amendment, is one of the most cherished rights afforded to us in the Constitution,” said Matthew Callahan, staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “By failing to take even minimal steps to allow Mr. Greenhill to practice his religion, Red Onion State Prison is blatantly violating his constitutional rights and federal law.”

The amicus brief was also joined by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Interfaith Alliance Foundation.