Sheriff Lupe Valdez made the announcement quietly last week while visiting with a small gathering of local Muslim Democrats: The Dallas County jail is now serving halal meals to Muslim inmates and making arrangements to better accommodate their fasts during the month of Ramadan.
Maybe she felt the policy change was too minor to be broadcast more widely, given that it won't cost the county anything, Lew Sterrett already provides kosher meals to Jewish inmates (It hasn't always) and that it's all consistent with established legal precedent. Maybe she was engaged in a harmless bit of pandering to her Muslim constituents. Or maybe she wanted to avoid the inevitable backlash.
That popped up last night in a story by CBS 11's J.D. Miles, who reports that the decision has "sparked controversy."
An article in an online Muslim newsletter promoted Sheriff Valdez's efforts to foster better relations with the Muslim community. But the article is now making news for its reference to the special meals offered during the Ramadan holiday.
"I find it very strange. I can see why people are outraged," says Carole Haynes, a Dallas area conservative blogger.
She was among those concerned that any inmates are getting special meals or treatment.
"As a kid we always heard when you went to jail you got bread and water; it was deterrent to going to jail," says Regina Imburgia, founder of Activists for Truth and Liberty.
"What's happening to the other inmates when they're not happy with their bologna and cheese sandwiches," asks Haynes.
They could always convert to Islam, though Haynes probably wouldn't want that. She's made a name in Tea Party circles by railing against the "Islamization" of public schools, among other things, and chaired the State Board of Education campaign for right-winger Gail Spurlock, who has blamed Islam for Miley Cyrus' twerking, among other societal ills.
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Here's an excerpt from a post on her website entitled "Is Islam Indoctrination in American Textbooks?":
The influence of Islam in America is gaining national attention as Muslims are demanding to have shariah (Islamic law) trump the U.S. Constitution in American courts of law, filing lawsuits and issuing death threats against those who dare to criticize Islam or Muhammad, and committing acts of terror on American soil.
Americans have been loath to criticize Islam, preferring instead to ignore the basic teachings of the Quran, including the forbidding of Muslims to make friends with Christians or Jews and commanding that infidels (non-Muslims) be killed. We docilely obey Islamic demands to stifle any criticism of Islam and "turn the other cheek" when America, Christians, and Jews are denigrated by Muslims.
Imburgia, a conservative activist, has made no public pronouncement about the evils of Islam that are so easily Googleable, but her bread-and-water approach to justice would be unlikely to pass constitutional muster.
But what Imburgia and Haynes lack in terms of objectivity and expertise on constitutional jurisprudence, they more than make up for in their willingness to go on camera and say politically incorrect things.