Michigan’s Muslim inmates are denied proper nutrition during Ramadan, lawsuit claims

A civil rights group has filed a federal lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections on behalf of four Muslim inmates who claim they were victims of religious discrimination.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) alleges that the inmates haven’t been receiving adequate nutrition during the month-long Ramadan fast and are being forced to eat food that is not prepared according to religious laws.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday, alleges that the state’s Ramadan meals contain about 1,100 - 1,400 calories. State policy requires that inmate meals should amount to between 2,600 and 2,900 calories every day, the Detroit Free Press reports. In addition, several inmates’ bagged meals were reportedly delivered after sunrise. Since observers of Ramadan fast from sunrise to sunset, the inmates were unable to eat their breakfasts.

CAIR-MI is also saying that “despite repeated requests,” the prison administration has refused to give Muslim inmates access to halal food, or food that is in accordance with Islamic teachings. The halal diet prohibits adherents from eating pork or any meat that isn’t slaughtered and prepared according to Islamic law.

“Plaintiffs have all been forced to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs by eating foods that violate the restrictions of the halal food diet ... on a daily basis in order to sustain themselves,” the lawsuit states.

Ramadan is scheduled to begin on July 9 this year. Before then, CAIR-MI hopes their legal tactics will force the department to change its policies.

The Michigan Department of Corrections hasn’t returned the Daily News’ request for comment.

Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During this holy month, Muslims seek to renew themselves by practicing different forms of self-control — often abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, and having sex.