Muslim woman says she was forced to attend Christian service in Ohio jail
A 24-year-old Muslim woman has filed a lawsuit against an Ohio jail after Cuyahoga County corrections officers allegedly ordered her to attend Christian prayer services or face solitary confinement, according to court filings made public Thursday.
Sakeena Majeed contends that an officer forced her to attend the services every Friday, and other guards mocked her for refusing to participate in the prayers, despite Majeed’s contentions that she was a practicing Muslim.
Majeed’s attorney, Matthew Besser, said he is trying to determine if his client was targeted, or if it was the jail’s practice to force inmates to attend the prayer services.
Calls and emails to representatives for the Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail, were not immediately returned.
Majeed was being held this year in an area of the jail where roughly 50 inmates are housed in “trustee pods,” according to the suit. Inmates housed in the pods are not confined to their rooms and are permitted to travel freely through certain parts of the jail.
“At this point, it’s too early to know exactly how widespread the practice is, and has been, and whether it had occurred in other portions of the jail,” Besser told the Los Angeles Times. “The only evidence I have here is that it occurred in the trustee pod. Our understanding is all the inmates in the pod were forced to go, some were willing and happy to go, and others less so.”
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, charges that the jail violated Majeed’s constitutional rights. The pastor at the services and another corrections officer also allegedly mocked Majeed’s faith when she refused to attend, according to Besser.
Majeed was being held on a 60-day sentence in April 2014 after an altercation with a police officer in downtown Cleveland, according to Besser. Majeed had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault of an off-duty police officer after the two got in an argument, according to Joe Frolik, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Frolik said he could not comment on the suit.
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