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Muslim Death Row Inmate Settles Suit Over Lack of Halal Food in Prison

Faith

“It is important to me that I follow the requirements of my faith as I approach death.”

COLUMBUS, Ohio (The Blaze/AP) -- In October, we brought you the story of a Muslim death row inmate who was suing over claims that the Ohio prison system was denying him meals prepared according to Islamic law, while providing kosher meals to Jewish prisoners. Now, Abdul Awkal has settled his lawsuit against the state.

Ohio had previously decided to remove all pork products from prison menus in response to the lawsuit, though inmates weren't seeking a ban on pork.

This decision, though, didn't solve that meat isn’t slaughtered in the appropriate way for Muslim inmates who adhere to religious tradition, said David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, which brought the lawsuit on Awkal’s behalf. He said the lawsuit will continue.

A judge has given lawyers and inmates for the state until next month to finish filing documents bolstering their arguments, ahead of an expected January trial.

Awkal, 52, is scheduled to die in June for killing his estranged wife, Latife Awkal, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz in 1992, in a room in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

“The issue of eating Halal meals is especially important to me because I face a death sentence,” Awkal said in a filing in federal court back in 2011. “It is important to me that I follow the requirements of my faith as I approach death.”

Details of the settlement announced Wednesday afternoon weren't released. Neither the inmate's lawyer or the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction would comment.

The state argued as recently as last month that providing the meals, known as halal, could bankrupt the state's food service system because thousands of inmates have declared themselves Muslim.

Attorneys for Abdul Awkal and a second inmate argued that the state was exaggerating the cost.

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