Tag Archives: Ramadan in prison

Zachary Adam Chesser: July 25, 2013 (Ramadan in Gitmo North – A Break from Tyranny)

BismIllaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Rahiim,

As the month of Ramadaan is now half past, I thought I might mention how we have been granted a brief reprieve from the Islamophobic and authoritarian staff in regards to our ability to pray with one another. You see, normally the Muslims at this particular Gitmo North facility are banned from praying together. We can only pray individually.

The staff who run Gitmo North have claimed that Islaamic congregational prayer will lead to radicalism. They say that whoever is leading the prayer will become an influential religious figure and somehow convince all of the other Muslims in the federal prison system to become terrorists. Thus, they banned congregational prayer.

Really, they just hate Islaam and wanted to punish Muslims for their beliefs, but they will not explicitly say that on paper. However, they have cited the fact that Islaam is the fasted growing religion in the prisons as a reason to ban group prayer, and they have also equated Islaam in general with radicalism.

A brother has informed me that one of the reasons a Muslim inmate was transferred to Gitmo North, was because he was radicalizing a prison in Michigan. As evidence, they cited the fact that prior to his arrival, only five prisoners were listed as Muslims. However, by the time he left, there were forty individuals identifying themselves as Muslims.

There was another man who arrived at Gitmo North, so the intelligence officer, Henry Rivas, told him that he should watch out, because the people here were going to try to convert him to their religion. This man was formerly a member of a religious group called the Black Israelites. A few months after arriving, he did, in fact, become Muslim, al-hamdu Lillaah, but he told us about what Rivas said to him prior to his conversion.

At the other Gitmo North facility, the one in Terre Haute, Indiana, prisoners are allowed to pray together, because a federal court told the prison that they were violating U.S. law by banning the Muslims at Gitmo North from praying together. However, at my facility, the ban continues, because technically the injunction only applies to the Terre Haute facility under American law. So, despite the fact that the facilities are exactly the same and that the law applies to the whole country, not just one pocket here or there, Gitmo North staff continue to ban us from prayer, even though they know it is against U.S. law.

Anyway, in Ramadaan, Gitmo North staff have apparently concluded that it is safe to let us pray together. Somehow the radicalization aura which is supposedly emitted from us when we pray together does not work during the Islaamic holy month devoted to fasting and worship, so they the ban is lifted. It is an amazing blessing which we all take advantage of. Normally, we can only pray together under the fear of disciplinary action.

I hope that the Muslims will reflect on this, and on the difficulty their brothers are enduring with regard to their prayers, and that they will not let their freedom pass them by without their taking advantage of this opportunity. Please keep us in your prayers, and raise awareness of this unjust policy.

Abu Talhah al-Amriiki
Guantanamo North, U.S.A.
16 Ramadaan, 1434


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