Muslim woman forced to go to church while in jail sues state of Ohio

(Photo: Dave Edmonds)

An Ohio woman is suing the state for allegedly forcing her to attend church services while incarcerated.

Sakeena Majeed is of Muslim faith, and said she was threatened and mocked by jail officials when she protested the freedom of religion violation.

Majeed was incarcerated in the Cuyahoga County Jail for 60 days beginning April 11, 2014 for an assault that occurred in July 2013.

During her stint, Majeed alleges that she and other inmates were forced to attend Friday afternoon church services led by a Baptist minister. When she protested, she was allegedly threatened with solitary confinement, and mocked by the minister and a correctional officer for not participating during the service.

"That should be offensive to anybody, no matter what your religion is," Majeed's attorney, Matthew Besser, told the Associated Press. "The government can't tell you what god to pray to or to pray at all."

Besser filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday, and is seeking unspecified damages. County Prosecutor's Office Communications and Public Policy Director Joe Frolik declined to discuss the case.

The Rocky River woman wants to expose the jail's practices, and prevent other inmates from experiencing what she did, her attorney explained. Besser added that freedom of religion constitutional protections do not disappear when a person is incarcerated.

"She grew up in Kansas, and she's American as apple pie," he said. "She just has a different religion than most people."

Inmate Dolen Glenn has battled the Indiana Department of Corrections for years because his Eastern Orthodox faith is not recognised as a religion by the agency. According to court documents, Glenn alleged that "he has been denied access to Eastern Orthodox services, communion, and confession, and to other religious items such as prayer rope, icons, alter, Bible, Prayer book, cross, prayer rug, candle, incense, holy water, holy oil, holy writing, and kosher food." His case is pending.