DALLAS — Some are expressing concern after reports surfaced outlining that the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department allowed Muslims to receive a special meal during the recent Ramadan season.
The news first broke via a Pakastani newspaper in an article entitled Halaal Food Being Provided to Muslim Inmates: Lupe Valdez.
“Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has said that she provided [a] Halaal meal in Dallas county prison along with special arrangements for Sahar and Iftar for Muslim inmates in the sacred month of Ramadan,” the report outlined. “She said this while talking to the prominent Muslim community leaders at her special 66th birthday celebration at the house of American Muslim Democratic Caucus Co-Chair Syed Fayyaz Hassan.”
“She said that she has done everything possible to ensure the human rights of all of the inmates regardless of their racial, gender and religious background,” it continued.
The sheriff’s department has since released a statement outlining its decision to provide the meal to Muslim inmates.
“It is the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department mission to serve the county without any discrimination or prejudice,” it states. “We offer services in English and Spanish and have offered them in Chinese and sign language as requested. Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self sacrifice and prayers.“
Word of the Ramadan provision has generated applause from Muslims, some of whom say that the sheriff’s department has not done anything extraordinary since kosher meals are also provided to Jewish inmates.
“It’s no special treatment,” Bilal Khaleeq of the Makkah Masjid mosque in Dallas told local television station KENS-5. “Just like any other religious group is kind of asked about what their preference is—we’ve got kosher meals–and so the Muslims would like to get some accommodations so that they are able to fast.”
Reaction from the general public has been mixed.
“If Kosher meals are prepared, it’s only fair that the Muslims get their Ramadan meals as well,” one commenter stated.
“The freedom of practicing your faith is our First Amendment right and you don’t lose this right in incarceration,” another wrote.
“This is just absolutely ridiculous and the sheriff should be admonished for this decision,” a resident who expressed opposition stated. “[B]eing in jail should not give anyone any special privileges.”
“I can understand providing special meals for a criminal who has some sort health condition—i.e. a diabetic—but I see zero need for the public system to bring in special foods for religious claims,” a fourth remarked. “Just another effort to pull the chain of law enforcement to show that the inmates are in control and not the jailers.”