Suit can move ahead for inmate denied Muslim holy day

Associated Press
Derrick Antone Maye

Adrian – Two Michigan prison chaplains can be sued for not allowing an inmate to participate in a Muslim religious holiday.

A federal appeals court on Thursday affirmed a lower court ruling that said Derrick Maye’s constitutional rights were violated in 2013 and 2014.

Maye says he was denied participation in Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, a holy month in the Muslim faith. He was housed at prisons in Adrian and Jackson. The appeals court says Maye was turned down, despite a policy change at the Corrections Department because of a different lawsuit.

In the appeal filed Thursday, officials say a chaplain in 2013 told Maye he would only attend Eid if he changed his religion from Nation of Islam to Al-Islam. Another chaplain denied Maye’s request to participate in Eid in 2014 “without offering any justification for doing so,” according to the appeal.

The actions allegedly occurred after the Michigan Department of Corrections amended its policy in July 2013 to recognize Eid al-Fitr as a protected religious holy day, saying inmates are permitted to “fast or feast.”

Maye was released from custody in November 2016, according to Michigan Department of Corrections.

Lawyers for the chaplains called it an “isolated incident.” The appeals court says any reasonable prison employee would know that it was a First and Fourteenth Amendment violation.

Maye attended religious services twice a week while incarcerated at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in 2013, and said in the appeal, he “only missed two weekly services over the course of his two years at the Cooper Street Correctional Facility from 2013 through 2015.”

Maye, who became a member of the National of Islam in 1992, was considered a leader and spokesman for the Nation of Islam at the facility.

The Detroit News Staff Writer Sarah Rahal contributed to this report.