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'Halal' Meat for Muslim Inmates Is Rejected

September 27, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey State Prison does not have to provide its Muslim inmates with meals containing meat prepared according to Islamic dietary law, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The judges agreed with state Department of Corrections officials that it would cost too much to serve "halal" meat to more than 200 inmates at the maximum-security prison in Trenton, and that the Muslim prisoners have many other opportunities to practice their religion.

Other religious inmates, including Jews, are served special meals to conform to their beliefs, but all those meals are vegetarian. The court said the prison is not discriminating against Muslims by serving them meatless meals.

Prisoners' rights advocates and Islamic groups said the decision issued earlier this month by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals hurts devout Muslim prisoners around New Jersey.

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