John Walker Lindh Wins Prison Prayer Suit
Former Taliban fighter sued to pray with other Muslims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2013 6:30 AM CST
This undated file photo obtained from a religious school where he studied for five months in Pakistan, shows American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – An American convicted of fighting alongside the Taliban must be allowed to pray daily in a group with other Muslim inmates at his high-security prison in Indiana, a federal judge ruled yesterday. Barring John Walker Lindh and his fellow Muslims from engaging in daily group ritual prayer violates a 1993 law that bans the government from curtailing religious speech without showing a compelling interest, wrote US District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson. The judge blocked the prison from enforcing its ban on daily group prayer, but she noted that her ruling does not prohibit the prison from taking less restrictive security measures.

Group prayers had been allowed once a week and on high holy days such as Ramadan or Christmas in the prison unit where Lindh was housed, the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute. But at other times, inmates had to pray alone in their cells. Lindh said that didn't meet the Koran's requirements, and that the Hanbali school of Islam to which he adheres requires him to pray daily with other Muslims. The prison, which maintains the group prayers are a security risk, might appeal.

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Jan 13, 2013 6:10 AM CST
"The judge blocked the prison from enforcing its ban on daily group prayer, BUT she noted that her ruling does not prohibit the prison from taking less restrictive security measures." John Walker Lindh and his prison buddies win nothing actually. But it looks good on paper and their constitutional rights are allegedly protected. lol. No judge's Order may block prison officials from enforcing its security policies. Not a one and the federal judge knows this. Tthat is the reason she deliberately included a "BUT" in her Order. Personally, I hate the word "But" in any written court Order allegedly entered in my favor. But I am glad this said Order includes the word "But". Whenever, behind the closed prison walls, the prison officials deny a certain daily group prayer on any given day and a prisoner's complaint is filed, the prison officials may legally site "SECURITY REASONS" Prison Security comes before any convicted prisoner's right to daily group prayer. The Muslim prisoners won absolutely nothing at all. lol.
Jan 13, 2013 2:57 AM CST
As a Muslim, this completely confuses me. We're not required to pray together daily. Men are required to go to the mosque for Friday prayers (it's optional for women), but, for the five prayers offered every other day, praying in groups is preferred, but optional. Unless he follows some really weird, specific sect, I don't understand why he thinks this is necessary, or why the courts would agree.
Jan 12, 2013 1:52 PM CST
Damn! This guy is still locked up? Been like 15 years!