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February 13, 2019 8:00 am

CAIR, Sarsour Plead Religious Rights of a Murderer, but Are Silent on His Victims

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avatar by Patrick Dunleavy


Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, two organizers of the Women’s March, walk together on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Third Annual Women’s March in Washington, DC, Jan. 19, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

Three teenagers in Selma, Alabama — Reinhard Mabins, 13; Earnest Mabins, 18; and Tiffany Harville, 15 — all had one thing in common: their lives were brutally cut short by a murderer, Domineque Ray.

Until last week, most of America knew little of Ray, who was sentenced to death in 1995 for his heinous acts. Ray had exhausted all his judicial appeals in both the state and federal courts. Then he filed another appeal on January 28, just 10 days before his scheduled execution.

This time, he claimed that the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) was required to allow his own spiritual adviser to accompany him into the execution chamber under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). He claimed that he was being discriminated against because he was a Muslim, having converted to Islam in 2006 while incarcerated.

The ADOC chaplain is a Christian, and Ray asserted that allowing that employee into the execution chamber violated the First Amendment’s Establishment clause.

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Ray had wanted his spiritual adviser, Imam Yusef Maisonet of the Masjid As Salaam mosque in Mobile, to be in the chamber with him. Maisonet, it should be noted, is a religious volunteer and not an employee of the ADOC.

At the mere mention of alleged discrimination against a Muslim, various Islamic activists groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and individuals such as Linda Sarsour sprang into action.

In the past, CAIR has falsely accused government agencies of anti-Islamic practices, including the US military’s Special Operations School.

Sarsour has come under recent criticism for her antisemitic statements and her refusal to disassociate herself from bigoted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Her obstinacy has led many women’s rights advocates to call for her removal as a leader of the national Women’s March.

One has to question how Sarsour’s advocacy for Domineque Ray balances with the rights of Tiffany Harville, who, as a young woman of 15, had all of her hopes and dreams viciously snatched from her by Ray. According to court papers, Ray and an accomplice “raped and repeatedly stabbed … Harville in a cotton field outside of Selma, Alabama. They left her abused body in the field, where her bones would be found almost a month later.”

The defense of Ray’s religious rights quickly spread through the media. Noted conservative columnist David French argued in National Review that not allowing the murderer the imam of his choice was “a grave injustice” that denied him “consolation at the moment of his death.”

The ADOC successfully argued that allowing a non-employee into the execution chamber would create a security threat. It also argued that Ray never demanded his personal clergyman be present during years of appeals, but raised it just two weeks before his execution.

The Supreme Court ruled on February 7 in favor of the ADOC in a 5-4 decision: “Because Ray waited until January 28, 2019 to seek relief, we grant the State’s application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.”

In the end, Ray was shown much more compassion and dignity at the hour of his passing than any of his young victims. The Alabama Department of Corrections gave him a Koran and allowed him to pray with Imam Maisonet in a holding cell just prior to his execution.

Tiffany Harville, Reinhard Mabins, and his brother Earnest’s cries for mercy to a cold blooded killer went unheeded at the hour of their deaths.

Patrick Dunleavy is a senior fellow at The Investigative Project on Terrorism, the former Deputy Inspector General for New York State Department of Corrections, and author of The Fertile Soil of Jihad. He currently teaches a class on terrorism for the United States Military Special Operations School.

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