CAIR-Philadelphia Wins Major Case for Prisoners’ Religious Rights

(PHILADELPHIA, PA, 5/18/16) – The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) is excited to announce a major victory in the free exercise of religion. Today, Judge Jones III ruled in favor of a Muslim inmate whose religious rights were violated by the State Correctional Institution Mahanoy. Last fall, Ryan Houldin, CAIR-Philadelphia Staff Attorney, joined the case as co-counsel to Post & Schell, representing an inmate who was fired for offering prayer during work hours.

State Correctional Institution Mahanoy had a policy prohibiting inmates from engaging in prayer that involved any ritual or display while working in the kitchen. At trial, we argued that the prison’s policy violated federal law by not accommodating the inmate’s right to perform prayer at work. Today, the court issued an order declaring that said policy substantially burdened the inmate’s religious rights, and ordered the prison to provide a space for all Muslim kitchen workers to pray during work. We commend the judge’s important decision in upholding the right to free exercise of religion.

“This is a major victory for religious liberty in the United States,” said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Jacob Bender. “Not only for American Muslims, but for all Americans. CAIR-Philadelphia is very proud of the role we played in this case.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. 

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CONTACT: CAIR-Philadelphia Staff Attorney Ryan Houldin, 267-515-6710,

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