Muslim prisoner claims mistreatment post-9-11

Steve Gonzalez Sep. 28, 2007, 7:00am

Hakeem Shaheed of Atlantic City filed a federal civil rights violation complaint against officials at the federal penitentiary at Marion alleging that after Sept. 11, 2001, Muslim inmates suffered mistreatment by guards and employees at the prison.

According to Shaheed, he is a practicing Muslim who was a prisoner at Marion from April 5, 1996, until Oct. 4, 2005.

Shaheed claims some of the guards abused him by intentionally placing his "Holy Qur'an" on a floor stained with spit which caused him to report the alleged abuse to various officials, including a meeting with the prison chaplin.

He claims that in May and August of 2005 agents from the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice came to the prison to investigate the allegations of mistreatment.

Shaheed claims that after the investigation a prison official intentionally humiliated him by telling him to put his arms out and then violently put his hands on his head, where he was wearing his Kufi, his religious head-covering. He claims his Kufi was squeezed in an obvious attempt to insult his religion.

According to Shaheed, he also reported the incident to the appropriate officials which caused officers to retaliate against him.

"Various Marion prison guards and employees were determined to torture and otherwise physically and mentally abuse plaintiff," the complaint states.

Shaheed claims several guards came to his cell, seized him, struck him, handcuffed his hands behind his back, shackled his ankles and took him to the prison hospital on Oct. 3, 2005.

He claims while at the hospital a group of officers started to physically abuse him by striking him in the face and other parts of his body with fists and batons causing him to plead to them to stop.

"Various persons then turned plaintiff face down and began to grind the baton into his spine and ram the stick into his rectal area, over his pants," the complaint states.

According to Shaheed, after much more abuse, a prison official from another institution got him transferred and placed him in a unit where he would be safe.

Shaheed is seeking compensatory damages against the defendants and because the defendants allegedly acted maliciously, willfully, wantonly, and/or with reckless disregard for his constitutional rights, he is seeking punitive damages, plus the costs of the suit, attorney fees and such other relief as this Court deems equitable and just.

The case has been assigned to District Judge Michael Reagan.

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