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Magistrate: Jail can bar Muslim headwear

NASHVILLE, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A federal magistrate says an inmate's rights were not violated when a Tennessee jail refused to allow him to wear a Muslim cap.

Magistrate Judge Juliet Griffin recommended that a district court judge dismiss Horatio Burford's lawsuit against the Sumner County Jail, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.

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Griffin found the jail has legitimate reasons to ban head coverings. Jail officials said hats, caps and scarves can be used to hide contraband and to signal gang ties.

Burford said the jail discriminated against Muslims in several ways. He was not allowed to wear a kufi, a round cap worn by many Muslim men, Muslim inmates were locked in their cells while Christians were attending Sunday service, and he was barred from starting a Muslim study group.

The magistrate said the lawsuit is moot because Burford is no longer in the Sumner County Jail. But she said the suit had no merit on any grounds.

"The First Amendment does not require that general prison officials provide inmates with the best possible means of exercising their religious beliefs nor does it require that general prison policies and concerns become subordinate to the religious desires of any particular inmate," Griffin wrote.

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