Source: Pxhere

A prison in the United States is accused of serving pork and offering "a starvation diet" to Muslim inmates during Ramadan.

This week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Department of Corrections on behalf of two Muslim plaintiffs held at a prison in Anchorage.

According to the lawsuit, prison officials violated the inmate's constitutional rights by denying them adequate meals during Ramadan and even served them bologna (a form of pork) sandwiches.

"The Constitution and Congress forbid prisons from compelling inmates to choose between their faith and food," CAIR's National Litigation Director Lena Masri said in an official statement.

"We hope that a court will do what Anchorage Correctional Complex officials will not: ensure that Muslim inmates are not starved or forced to violate the principles of their faith during the holy month of Ramadan."

"A starvation diet"

Although the Muslim inmates allegedly requested special meals and an altered eating schedule to coincide with their fasting, the prison neglected to do so. 

U.S. law requires prisons to "allow for the temporary accommodation of multi-day religious fasting and dietary prohibitions, including fasting during Ramadan," the lawsuit filing explains.

Instead of regular hot meals ranging from 2,600 to 2,800 calories that are the norm in the prison, the Muslim inmates have been given "cold meals" of only 500 to 1,100 calories in total. 

Additionally, these meals sometimes contained pork products, reducing what the inmates could eat even further.

CAIR argues that this amounts to offering the prisoners "a starvation diet." The lawsuit asks the court to require the prison to provide a "balanced nutritional diet ... free of pork products" for all Muslim inmates.

"Their food was confiscated from them"

The prison, however, appears to contest the lawsuit's claims.

Megan Edge, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Corrections, told The Hill that she would not comment directly on ongoing litigation. 

However, she said that the prison provides "sack meals" to Muslim prisoners during Ramadan that they can eat at their convenience.

"DOC accommodates many different faiths inside of our facilities – including those who identify as Muslim," Edge said. 

"To the best of our ability, in accordance with Islamic Law, we are providing our Muslim residents the opportunity to succeed during Ramadan by being able to abstain totally from food and drink between dawn and dusk."

"We do not limit the religions these are currently what we have in the facilities," she added. "If someone comes along that wishes to practice a different religion we will accommodate them within the confines of the safety and security of all our residents and staff.”

Around 30 to 40 Muslim prisoners are incarcerated at the correctional facility, Edge said.

Despite Edge's comments, Gadeir Abbas, a senior litigation attorney with CAIR, told Anchorage Daily News that there was one day where the Muslim inmates had nothing to eat.

"There's a day where they ate nothing at all," Abbas said. "Their food was confiscated from them. This is a dire situation."

"We're hoping the courts will see this for what it is – a dire emergency."