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Ramadan Update: Defending Human Dignity and Freedom

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Dear friend,

My name is Golnaz Fakhimi, and I joined Muslim Advocates as its legal director in October of 2023. This Ramadan has elicited deep reflection for me and our Legal Team about all that our communities have been facing and what Muslim Advocates has been able to offer in response. So much of our recent work flows from the recognition that state power—in prisons, at borders, and in Gaza—aims to strip people of their freedom. I’m humbled and grateful to share our team’s recent legal and advocacy efforts to defend human dignity and freedom.

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  • Suing for Transparency into Discriminatory Prosecutions at the Southern Border: Last year, public reporting came to light revealing that, of the more than 200 migrants who have faced prosecution for crossing the southern border in Texas, 60 percent originated from Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, and Iran. Because we know that discrimination lurks in prosecutorial discretion, that disparity alarms us. So, in partnership with the National Immigration Project, we recently sued the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to obtain more information about the targeting of people from Muslim-majority countries at our southern border. 
  • Ensuring Incarcerated Muslims Can Observe Ramadan: Before the start of Ramadan, Muslim Advocates and the Religious Liberty Clinic of Stanford Law School sent joint advocacy letters putting departments of corrections in all 50 states on notice about their legal obligations to accommodate Ramadan observance for people in their custody. We also published a Know Your Rights (KYR) advertisement about Ramadan observance in Prison Legal News, a leading publication accessible to thousands of incarcerated people nationwide. 
  • Holding the U.S. Accountable for Genocide in Gaza: We joined 10 civil rights and grassroots organizations to file a brief in support of litigants seeking accountability for U.S. complicity in the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians, Palestinian Americans, and social-justice organizations are fighting a blockbuster court battle over this issue, and this coalition brief details the harms facing Palestinian Americans and their families as a direct consequence of the genocide. 

Taking on governments, agencies, and prisons that are using their entrenched power to target historically marginalized people requires collective effort. Reflection during Ramadan has allowed me to think about my dogged team at Muslim Advocates and all our partners nationwide who share in the fight to defend human dignity and freedom. It has been a somber privilege to support our diverse communities during Ramadan with such great colleagues and partners. 

I welcome you to take a look at our updated KYR materials, including template letters, which you and your loved ones can use and adapt to seek religious accommodations during Ramadan and Eid from carceral facilities, workplaces, and schools. As always, this work would not be possible without your support. 

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May the communion that defines this month persist beyond it and offer all of us sustenance and hope that defy the cruelty of borders and prisons.

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