INDIANAPOLIS (TheBlaze/AP) — An American-born Taliban fighter is heading to trial in Indianapolis in a lawsuit over prison prayer that will examine how far officials can go to ensure security in an age of terrorism.
Thirty-one-year-old John Walker Lindh is expected to testify in federal court Monday in the lawsuit that challenges limits placed on group prayer among Muslims housed in a closely monitored unit at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.
In Jan. 2011, The Blaze first brought you Lindh’s story. Over the past few years, he has joined other prisoners in a fight to secure the right to hold a daily prayer group. The men, who live in a highly-restricted cell block, claim that restrictions on their prayer violate their religious rights. Currently, inmates in the unit are allowed to have group prayers once a week.
The government, though, has argued that these regulations are necessary to ensure safety and that the inmates can, at the least, hear one another as they pray in their individual cells. Now, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on his side, Lindh — who continues to fight for more regular group prayer – is going to have his day in court. Pending the result in court, the Taliban fighter may end up receiving the permission he has sought so diligently.
The lawsuit was originally filed back in 2009 by two inmates who live in the prison’s Communications Management Unit (CMU). This unit holds mostly Muslim inmates who have limited communications with the outside world. While the other prisoners have since bowed out of the lawsuit, having been released or transferred to other locations, Lindh, who joined the legal effort in 2010, continues the fight.
The ACLU is arguing that the U.S. government cannot restrict religious activities unless there is a compelling need. Thus, officials will need to prove that such a situation exists in court.
Lindh is serving 20 years for supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government of Afghanistan and carrying explosives for them.
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