What goes around comes around.
A judge has rescinded his “no-touch” order for female guards with respect to a Guantanamo Bay detainee, saying the detainee cannot rely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Guantanamo Bay previously obliged Abd al Hadi al Iraqi’s demand that female guards not be permitted to touch him, but the judge who initially issued the “no-touch” order is now arguing that Hadi can’t make use of the law, which Hobby Lobby relied on in its case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The judge, Navy Capt. J.K. Waits, argued that the new ruling is backed by two main arguments: the need for a well-functioning facility and the elimination of gender discrimination. Both provide sufficient grounds for overriding the previous ruling, which barred female guards from tactile contact with Hadi, a former al Qaeda army commander in Afghanistan, the Miami Herald reports.
Waits put the prohibition in place in early November of 2014 and reconfirmed the ruling on Nov. 18. The prohibition came into play after Hadi struggled against female guards in October, a circumstance that prompted male guards to step in and restrain the detainee. Hadi believes that only his wife should be allowed to touch him, citing his adherence to Islam as justification. According to reports, during the time the ruling was in effect, female guards were unable to shackle Hadi. Female guards comprise approximately 10% of the guard population at Guantanamo Bay.
The Pentagon’s gradual shift toward ending gender discrimination appears to have won over religious accommodation of Islam. Additionally, the revisiting of the ruling was likely motivated by gender discrimination complaints from female guards, though Waits didn’t mention that factor in the ruling.
We respect the decision by the Commission, but believe that Judge Waits and JTF GTMO misunderstand how important Hadi al-Iraqi’s religion is to him. Again, we are asking for a very simple accommodation so a devout Muslim, pending trial, can continue to practice his religion without restriction and being subjected to a violent force cell extraction before attending mandatory medical appointments, legal meetings, court sessions and all other essential visits.
Hadi remains accused of commanding the al Qaeda army in Afghanistan during the time of the original American invasion in 2001, a finding established by the Guantanamo Review Task Force in 2010. He is one of 17 high-value detainees, and was “personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq.”
If convicted, Hadi would be sent to prison for life.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.