Critics have asked why Alabama requires a Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber.
A Muslim American who is on death row in Albama has been refused his request for an imam to be in the execution chamber.
Domineque Ray is scheduled for execution via lethal injection after his he was sentenced for rape and murder in 1995. He converted to Islam after his arrest.
The state is denying his request, saying it would violate execution protocol. The state says that Ray’s imam, a private spiritual advisor “is untrained, inexperienced, and outside the State’s control”.
Inmates are allowed to visit their spiritual advisors before entering the chamber, and the advisor is allowed to watch the execution from a viewing room. However, the law in Alabama does allow for a state prison chaplain to be present inside the chamber.
Ray’s attorneys have appealed the decision, saying that authorities are denying Ray his First Amendment right to freedom of religion. They say that Ray’s faith is of “the upmost importance” in his life.
His attorneys have also mentioned that his warden refused his request to not have the chaplain present during his execution.
Hassan Shibly, of the Council of American Islamic Relations said:
The State of Alabama allows the inmate of Christian faith to have a spiritual advisor guiding them in the transition to the after-life… in giving this advantage to Christians and denying it to citizens of other faiths, it violates the constitution.
Critics have asked why Alabama requires a Christian chaplain to be present in the execution chamber. Ray’s attorneys said that the chaplain’s mandatory presence serves an unconstitutional interest, “safeguarding the soul or spiritual health of the condemned inmate in the Christian belief system.”
Ray is scheduled to be executed on Thursday.