American Taliban seeks group prayer in Indiana prison
INDIANAPOLIS — An American-born Taliban fighter imprisoned in Indiana will try to convince a federal judge that his religious freedom trumps security concerns in a closely watched trial that will examine how far prisons can go to ensure security in the age of terrorism.
John Walker Lindh was expected to testify Monday in Indianapolis during the first day of the trial over prayer policies in a tightly restricted prison unit where he and other high-risk inmates have severely limited contact with the outside world.
Lindh, 31, a Muslim convert who was charged with supporting terrorists after he was captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and later pleaded guilty to lesser charges, claims his religious rights are being violated because the federal prison in Terre Haute deprives him of daily group prayer.
Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and the Hanbali school to which Lindh belongs requires group prayer if it is possible. But inmates in the Communications Management Unit are allowed to pray together only once a week except during Ramadan. At other times, they must pray in their individual cells. Lindh says that doesn't meet the Quran's requirements and is inappropriate because he is forced to kneel in close proximity to his toilet. (...)