As though ICE could get worse, this week at The Intercept Maryam Saleh reports on one immigration detention facility’s blatantly Islamophobic campaign to prevent Muslim detainees from observing Ramadan.
Saleh reports that ICE agents arbitrarily deny detainees’ request to be placed on the facility’s Ramadan list, deny fasting detainees adequate nutrition, discriminate against detainees who wear kufis, and deny or delay their requests for Qurans. (Unsurprisingly, detainees who ask for bibles are accommodated immediately.) Saleh writes:
Ramadan is, in many ways, a community affair: People tend to gather with friends and family for iftar, the meal eaten to break the fast, and spend their nights praying together at a mosque. Immigrant detainees, separated from their families, are not only denied that community experience, but at Glades, they’re also facing discriminatory treatment even if they’re included on the Ramadan list, the advocates charge. Several of the detainees have reported that their food is not halal and the portions are not sufficient after a long day of fasting. Those observing the fast are required to eat leftover meals, which means that, depending on when lunch is served, the meals have possibly been out in the open for more than eight hours by the time of iftar. Some detainees reported being served food that was hard to swallow, cold, or rotten.
By preventing Muslim detainees from observing the holy month as a faith community, the discriminatory treatment contributes to the intense social isolation imposed on detainees. This, in turn, can have a dehumanizing and demoralizing effect. As Yusuf Saei, a Fellow at Muslim Advocates, is quoted as saying in the article, such treatment is not only a violation in and of itself; it also discourages detainees and makes them less willing to fight their cases.
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