[Pnews] Guantánamo detainees demand same religious rights as Hobby Lobby

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 4 13:07:38 EDT 2014

*Guantánamo detainees demand same religious rights as Hobby Lobby*

Two hunger-striking Guantánamo Bay detainees have asked a US court to 
count them as ‘persons’ with religious free exercise rights, in the wake 
of a new Supreme Court decision extending those rights to US craft store 
chain Hobby Lobby.

The prisoners – Emad Hassan of Yemen and Ahmed Rabbani of Pakistan, both 
detained at the prison without charge or trial since 2002 – have this 
week asked the DC District Court to intervene after the prison's 
military authorities prevented them from praying communally during 
Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims.

Monday’s landmark religious rights decision 
by the Supreme Court decided that Hobby Lobby, a privately-held chain of 
craft-supply stores said to be run on “Biblical principles 
<http://www.hobbylobby.com/our_company/>,” counted as a ‘person’, and 
enjoyed the right to ‘free exercise’ of religion under US law.

The banning of communal prayers at Guantánamo is one of a series of 
recent measures against detainees on hunger strike. Two weeks ago, it 
emerged that prison guards had taken away the wheelchair of Abu Wa’el 
Dhiab, a disabled prisoner, and had been 'FCE-ing' (a Forcible Cell 
Extraction, in which a team of armed guards storm the cell to 'subdue' 
the detainee) him to and from the force-feeding chair. The authorities 
have also recently taken hunger-strikers to isolation 
and subjected them to repeated genital searches 

In separate litigation, several prisoners – including Hassan, Rabbani 
and Dhiab – are asking the court to order a halt to abusive 
force-feeding practices at the prison. A full hearing on the merits of 
Mr. Dhiab’s case is expected before Labor Day.

*Cori Crider, attorney for the detainees and a director at human rights 
non-profit Reprieve, said:* “Religious freedom is one of the main 
reasons the Founding Fathers threw off British rule, and it’s as central 
to our life as Americans in 2014 as it was in 1776 – so why are the 
authorities at Guantánamo Bay seeking to punish detainees for hunger 
striking by curtailing their right to pray? If, under our law, Hobby 
Lobby is a ‘person’ with a right to religious freedom, surely Gitmo 
detainees are people too.”


Notes to editors

1. The motions can be accessed here (Emad Hassan 
and Ahmad Rabbani 

2. Details of the separate force-feeding case/Dhiab v Obama/ can be 
accessed here 

3. For further information, please contact Reprieve's press office (US) 
clemency.wells at reprieve.org.uk <mailto:clemency.wells at reprieve.org.uk> / 
001 929 258 2754 or (UK) alice.gillham at reprieve.org.uk 
<mailto:alice.gillham at reprieve.org.uk> / +44 207 553 8160

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