Death row inmate's Muslim spiritual adviser reacts to execution, denied religious request

    (image: WPMI) Death row inmate's Muslim spiritual adviser reacts to execution, denied religious request

    The imam, or Muslim spiritual adviser, of an Alabama death row inmate is speaking out about the man's execution and his denied request to stay the execution on religious grounds.

    Dominique Ray, 42, was pronounced dead Thursday night of lethal injection at Holman Prison in Atmore. He was convicted of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in 1995.

    On Friday, the discussion and controversy around his denied request for a non-Christian spiritual adviser during his execution continues.

    Yusef Maisonet was Ray's imam, a Muslim spiritual leader. He was at Holman Prison Thursday watching the lethal injection from a separate room.

    "Once they had him ready, they opened the curtains and the warden came in. She read to him the order of execution and asked him if he had anything to say. He said 'There's no God but only one God," said Masionet.

    Maisonet wasn't inside the execution chamber, as Ray requested, due an Alabama Department of Corrections' safety protocol. ADOC only allows correctional employees, including a Christian chaplain, inside the chamber.

    Ray's attorneys challenged the decision. They were eventually granted the removal of the Christian chaplain and an appeal for a stay of execution.

    However, that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.

    "It was very disappointing because I felt we had a strong case - that at least they could have something to argue over at the Supreme Court," Maisonet said.

    The ACLU released a statement on the matter saying, in part:

    “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.”

    Spencer Hahn, Ray's federal public defender, said the protocol violates the rights of any non-Christian inmate.

    "They don't have to be Muslim. They can be Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, or Catholic. This is something that affects everyone who's not a protestant or mainline Christian," said Hahn.

    Hahn said efforts will be underway to make sure inmates of all faiths are aware of this issue, and it could be fought in court again in the future.

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