Muslim Man Executed After Supreme Court Denies His Plea for Imam

The same comfort is regularly awarded to Christians on death row.

Muslim Man Executed
The Supreme Court denied a man's right to have an imam present for his execution. (Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Supreme Court denied an Alabama Muslim man’s request to have an imam present in the room for his execution, vacating the stay of a lower court’s order.

Domineque Ray, who was convicted of killing a 15-year-old in 1995, was scheduled to be executed on Thursday evening at 7 p.m., before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit granted an emergency stay, New York Magazine reported. After the stay was overturned in a 5-4 SCOTUS ruling, Ray, 42, was put to death by lethal injection without his longtime imam, Yusef Maisonet.

“The central constitutional problem here is that the state has regularly placed a Christian cleric in the execution room to minister to the needs of Christian inmates, but has refused to provide the same benefit to a devout Muslim and all other non-Christians,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit wrote on Wednesday.

“The Claim presented by Domineque Ray touches at the heart of the Establishment Clause,” a panel of three judges determined, referring to the section of the First Amendment that prohibits the state from establishing preference toward a certain religion. “That, it appears to us, is what the Alabama Department of Corrections has done here.”

But the Supreme Court disagreed and considered the lower court’s ruling “an abuse of discretion.” Since Ray waited until Jan. 28 — the week before his execution — to file an appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in Alabama’s favor, upholding the state’s claim that Ray was denied his request in order to maintain the prison’s safety. However, Ray, a devout Muslim, was only informed that an imam would not be allowed in the room on January 23, giving him just two business days to speak with his lawyers and file an appeal.

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