In Alabama, a Muslim Man Was Denied the Presence of His Imam During His Execution

Domineque Ray was pronounced dead last night at 10:12 p.m. Thirty minutes prior, his execution by lethal injection began.

His last words were a proclamation of his Muslim faith in Arabic. But Ray’s imam was missing from the room, despite Ray’s repeated requests to the state for his imam’s presence. In the days leading up to his death, Ray was also denied access to a Quran, though the state ultimately complied with an order to provide the holy text.

Less than two hours before Ray was executed, the Supreme Court narrowly decided to allow the execution to proceed without his religious advisor in the chamber. This ruling was handed down despite the fact that Christian prisoners are routinely accompanied by chaplains during their final moments. In fact, as the BBC reported, the “Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) employs a Christian chaplain who has been in the execution room for nearly every execution since 1997.”

The vote was 5-4 along party lines. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Elena Kagan described the decision as “profoundly wrong,” writing:

“Under [the state’s] policy, a Christian prisoner may have a minister of his own faith accompany him into the execution chamber to say his last rites. But if an inmate practices a different religion — whether Islam, Judaism, or any other — he may not die with a minister of his own faith by his side. That treatment goes against the Establishment Clause’s core principle of denominational neutrality. Here, Ray has put forward a powerful claim that his religious rights will be violated at the moment the State puts him to death. The Eleventh Circuit wanted to hear that claim in full. Instead, this Court short-circuits that ordinary process — and itself rejects the claim with little briefing and no argument — just so the State can meet its preferred execution date.”

Ray was denied his religious liberty because he is a member of a minority faith, Islam, that has faced considerable hostility and discrimination in recent years. The court ultimately prioritized purported scheduling procedures at the expense of his civil rights at a time in which he was most vulnerable, while the ADOC prioritized one religion over another.

The state of Alabama has a constitutional responsibility to preserve the dignity and equality of the people it puts to death. The state failed that test last night with five justices of the Supreme Court approving its decision.

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Anonymous

According to the New York Times article, most of the problem was that he waited until the last minute. The prison clergy has already been trained, vetted, and etc. They didn't have time to do all that with the Iman making him a security risk. If he had asked for a Christian spiritual advisor, other than the one employed by the prison, he would have encountered the same problem. The local paper said that they don't let ANY spiritual adivsors, including the prison clergy, in.

Anonymous

You left out the part about how he raped and murdered a 15 year old girl

Anonymous

Did this monster provide TIFFANY HARVILLR spiritual support when he and a friend took turns brutally raping,, beating and then stabbing her as she pleaded for her life? Was her Pastor there on the ground next to her as the knife was pushed so hard into her head that it broke through her skull and into her brain? Can you imagine how hard he had to push? Was her Pastor with her when her body lay in that cotton field decomposing for two years while her mother mourned and searched for her? I'm so sick of you people who make monsters the victim. Was the Spiritual Support provided to the two teenage brothers he killed?

Anonymous

This is exactly how I feel! He deserved no comfort.

Anonymous

Hey Brock Boone, I can't help but notice you failed to mention this monsters crimes or the name of the child he killed. You know...the REAL victim? Her name was TIFFANY HARVILLE. her mother had given her $6 to attend a meeting. Instead this beast and a friend were waiting for her as they had planned. They took turns brutally raping her as she begged them to stop and in vain tried to defend herself with her arms. This monster you write about having rights then stabbed her in the head so hard, it went through her skull into her brain. You are so concerned with this Sunni Muslim who along with this Imam follow Mohammed's directives to kill all non Muslims , you forgot this beast monster didn't provide TIFFANY with spiritual support as he raped and murdered her before leaving her to DIE alone. This monster has no rights!

Anonymous

Okay. First off, I'm gonna ask you to refresh your history, because Muhammad never told his followers to kill all non-Muslims. That... Never happened. It's a common misconception, on the same level as believing Jesus claimed to be the son of God (he was being metaphorical. Sorry). The actions of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS reflect the broader Muslim community to the same degree that the Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church represent the broader Christian community (that is, not at all). They're extremists. They're insane, and I'll be the first to call them objectively evil. I'll also be the first to say that Domineque Ray, who did indeed brutally rape and murder a teenage girl, was objectively evil.

That is all, however, completely beside the point. Sorry.

Tiffany Harville got her justice. Tiffany's mother, for whom my heart aches, got her justice. The minute Ray's sentence was passed down, their justice was secured, and the minute that sentence was carried out, their justice was received. By the laws of this country, at the moment of his death Ray was absolved of his crimes, just as every ex-con has been absolved of their crimes. This is not an issue of justice.

The issue is that there are worse people than Domineque Ray on death row. I'd bet money that there are worse people than Domineque Ray on death row just in ALABAMA. The issue is that there are other pedophiles, rapists, murderers and more on death row, and when they die, they will have the RIGHT to a religious advisor, a right Ray was denied, just because they happen to be Christian instead of Muslim, or Buddhist, or Taoist, or Pagan, or Hindu.

If you're going to argue that Ray didn't deserve to have his religious advisor present at his death because of the atrocity of his crimes, then I ask you: Why do THEY? Why do they deserve to have a religious advisor present, despite the atrocity of THEIR crimes?

And if your answer is "because they're Christian," then boy, have I got a surprise for you: You're prejudiced.

It must really suck to be that full of hate. Didn't Jesus say something about the value of love, and keeping hate out of your heart, and leaving judgment to God? I'm pretty sure he did. Too bad you didn't listen.

Sorry.

Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

When did he start being a Muslim, before or after he was on death row? Some of these guys will try anything to delay their execution.

Anonymous

Albama, thar. Livin' down to theys reputation thar.

Ben

A clear violation of Separation. This was a case of religious discrimination.

Anonymous

So many people are worried about people’s rights who couldn’t care less about anybody else’s.

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