[Katherine: The letter below was sent from Dr. Dhafir to Warden Jett. Please consider writing to Warden Jett to ask that Muslim prisoners be allowed to continue fasting as they have done for the last two years. Dr. Dhafir and other Muslims are being held in a special prison unit in Terre Haute, Indiana.]

Dear Warden Jett:

After months of requesting you to meet with us in Communications Management Unit, you addressed us in Feb. 2008. Even though you hardly touched on the issues that we at CMU wanted to discuss with you, you mentioned that you had only 2 concerns:

1. Maintain security in CMU
2. No attempted escape.

I fail to understand how taking our own food from the Dining Area jeopardize either one of these two concerns.

If it is a matter to show us who is in charge, please rest assured that none has any illusion about this. If it is a matter of following policy, then what was going on for the last 2 years since we were brought here against our will?

Every time a “strange” new rule is announced I am told ” this is what applies to others in the compound”. I am willing to accept this argument if you are willing to allow me to be in the compound and treat me exactly as you treat every one else out there.

You have to admit and accept the fact that CMU is “different” from the rest of the compound. If not, please explain to me why am I restricted in my phone calls? Why can’t I have visits on weekends and holidays? Why can’t I have contact visits? Why I have no access to an open yard? Why are there no meaningful jobs for every one in CMU? Why am I restricted from going to the facility hospital but once a week regardless of how sick I am? Need I mention only some of the policy violations when it comes to CMU? ( e.g. Institution Supplement THX-5360.09c, 7, 8a, 8b, 9a, 10 a,b,c and d, 11k1-islam, 12e, 13 b,c and f, 18a and b), you know well that the dining area will not pass a Fire Marshal inspection. The tap water here is not potable. An inspection by the Health Dept. will definitely agree that it is the source of at least 2 cases of kidney stones, hair loss and the constant itching for many of us, just to mention a few.

If your concern is stealing food then please remember that the majority here are practicing Muslims. We simply do not steal.Our lockers are never locked. We had not had a single incident of theft for over 2 years since we were brought here. Besides, how is one to steal his own food? There is no food to steal. The food cart gets inspected on the way in as well as on the way out every time a meal is served.

If your concern is a health issue, our track record of over 2 years of no food poisoning speaks for itself. The only time there was an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis it was not from the food in CMU rooms but rather from J. Kennedy’s kitchen. Need I remind you of the rotten food served us on 9/14/08 which remedy #510416F1 is based on?

In your memo of 12/9/08 you justified your decision based on a memo from a J.Kennedy. No one here seem to know who this J.Kennedy is and no one (including the CMU staff) is aware of this Kennedy’s memo. It is said that it is easy to legislate from the bench. The fact that this J.Kennedy is an unknown in CMU indicates that he/she never or rarely set foot in CMU to realize the reality on the ground in here.

I, and many others, fast every Monday and Thursday as well as 3 more days every month for religious reasons. Something that I have done for years which Administration is well aware of as evidenced by a written memo from Mr. Henry upon our arrival here. This is a total of 11-13 days a month, in addition to Ramadan and other Holy Days. Depending on the time of the year, I am unable to eat at meal times. I cannot afford to buy my own food all these days if I am not allowed to store my meals as has been provided all along.

You have been in the “wardening” business for years.You know well that the best way to keep peace is to keep people busy. If not, they will complain, rightly or wrongly, about every and anything, verbally or by remedy process. There is hardly much to keep me/us busy here in CMU. No meaningful jobs, no outdoor recreational area, no real library (never mind about the library space), no adequate visits and phone calls, no meaningful live classes and education..etc.
Cooking is one of the ways to keep me/us busy and stay away from trouble. The food served here is far from being edible without spicing and further cooking. With only 2 microwave ovens for over 40 prisoners it will be a major riot trying to cook during the limited meal time.

I can go on and on but I hope that you get the picture.

Stubbornness is neither virtuous nor will it earn one respect. However, it takes a courageous man with wisdom to abandon a less than wise decision in favor of a better and more realistic one.

Please exempt CMU from this arbitrary decision because the old saying (If it “ain’t” broken don’t fix it) still applies.

Rafil Dhafir

[You can find more information here to write to Warden Jett.]