Four former detainees at Guantanamo — Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal al-Harith — are litigating in Rasul vs. Rumsfeld to hold government officials accountable for torture they endured while being held there. (All were found innocent of terrorist activity and released in 2004.) Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the four British citizens first cited violations of the U.S. Constitution and international law, but these were thrown out by the district court because the alleged misconduct (beatings, painful shackling, interrogation at gunpoint, use of dogs, extreme temperatures and sleep deprivation) was seen as occurring during the “course of war.” But allegations of deliberate attacks on religion were not so easily ignored and are currently being considered by an appeals court in Washington, D.C.
The former Gitmo detainees allege they were forced to shave their beards, were systematically interrupted while praying, denied the Qu’ran and prayer mats, made to pray with exposed genitals and forced to watch as the Qu’ran was thrown into a toilet bucket. Obviously, the only reason for such abuse would be to crush inmates psychologically by insulting their religion. Therefore it could, if proven, violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which seeks to protect religious expression.