INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Lawyers for American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh asked a federal judge Wednesday to find the Federal Bureau of Prisons in contempt for not allowing Muslim inmates in a high-security Indiana prison unit to pray together five times a day, as required by their faith.
The prisons agency has said inmates of all religions housed in the Terre Haute federal prison's Communications Management Unit have been allowed to pray together three times daily after a federal judge ruled in Lindh's favor in a lawsuit seeking the prayers.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argues in its contempt motion filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis that three times a day isn't what Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson's Jan. 11 ruling required. Magnus-Stinson said Lindh, 32, sincerely believes Islam mandates Muslims pray together five times a day and federal law requires the prison to accommodate his beliefs.
The motion also said prayer times set by the prison make only two daily prayers possible at some times during the year or make prayers impossible to perform at proper times.
The prison has "knowingly and intentionally established a procedure and schedule for prayers that prevents John Lindh and other Muslim prisoners within the CMU from engaging in congregate prayer during all times that they are released from their cells," the motion said.
Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, said it was "immensely disappointing that the federal government feels it can avoid complying with the judge's order."
Bureau of Prisons spokesman Christ Burke said the agency would have no comment on the motion because the legal action was pending.