Muslim Detainees in New Jersey End Hunger Strike

Newark, NJ: A group of Muslims held in custody since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks has ended a hunger strike it called to protest their continued detention. Seven detainees in the Hudson County Jail in Kearny, and about a half-dozen in the Passaic County Jail in Paterson began eating and drinking again over the last several days after being reassured by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service that their cases are progressing.

“They’re done with the hunger strike,” said Sohail Mohammed, a Clifton immigration lawyer who represented most of the Hudson County participants. “The INS came and they talked to them and gave them some assurances.”

The agency did not make any specific promises but listened to the detainees’ complaints about their prolonged incarceration, and other grievances, such as the lack of special halal food perpared according to Muslim religious law.

“People wanted to know to their satisfaction that the INS was hearing their concerns and was doing what they could to listen to them,” said spokesman Kerry Gill. “They talked about things that were on their minds, and we listened. We do have a legal process that’s at work, and that’s what people need to keep in mind.”

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