A Muslim woman is suing an Ohio jail for forcing her to attend a Christian church service. Sakeena Majeed alleges that the corrections officers ordered her to attend the services every Friday or face solitary confinement.
She filed a lawsuit on December 18 and claims that other officers “openly chastised and mocked” her beliefs despite contending that she is a practising Muslim. The lawsuit claims that Majeed suffered emotional distress and humiliation.”
The 24-year old was sentenced for 60 days in Cuyahoga County Corrections Centre in April 2014 after having an altercation with a police officer in Cleveland, US. She was one of roughly 50 inmates who were housed in “trustee pods” according to the suit. This allowed them to travel freely through certain particular sections of the jail.
Majeed’s Attorney, Matthew Besser, told Los Angeles Times: “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.”
“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 lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It states that the jail violated her constitutional rights and other inmates in the low-security are witnesses. It alleges that defendants broke a federal law that prohibits jails and prisons from placing a burden on inmates’ ability to worship as they please.
Attorney Besser said other inmates, Christians and non-Christians alike were forced to attend the services too, “The Government can’t tell people which god to pray to, or whether to pray at all.”
Sakeena Majeed was released from the jail in June 2014.