Thursday, November 08, 2007

Muslim Rivalry Hits New York Prisons

Staff Reporter of the SunNovember 7, 2007

The rivalry and violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims isn't just limited to Iraq. It is increasingly found in one place presumed shut off from the influence of faraway sectarian politics: New York's state prisons.
In the last two decades, the state's Muslim inmates, who number 7,987, have been increasingly identifying as either Sunni or Shiite, a phenomenon that prison chaplains elsewhere say is most pronounced in New York. Shiite inmates, who make up less than 4% of the Muslims incarcerated here, have long reported religious persecution by the Sunni-dominated Muslim chaplaincy employed by the state. The Sunni-Shiite divide has played a role in at least one stabbing between inmates in 2004, e-mails by prison officials show.
Shiite inmates have long demanded their own chaplains and a separate place to pray on Fridays, apart from other Muslim inmates. A little-noticed federal court ruling improves the prospects that Shiite inmates will see their demands met...


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