Jewish prisoner in Alabama asks for transfer over kosher food fight


(JTA) — A Venezuelan Jew imprisoned in Alabama who sued the federal government demanding to be served kosher food is seeking a transfer to another prison.

Rafael Alberto Lloveras Linares, a federal immigration detainee, wants to be moved to a facility in Miami or Newark, N.J., where he can have a kosher meal provided by a “Jewish catering service” according to Jewish traditions and federal standards, the online edition of the Huntsville Times,, reported.

Linares filed the emergency request for a transfer late last week in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, reported. According to the request, Linares had been assaulted by six inmates four days after filing a complaint May 1 with the court. The earlier request argued that he was in jeopardy in the Etowah County Jail after being moved to an area with the most dangerous inmates in retaliation for a lawsuit on kosher meals that he had filed in late April.

Linares claims that he is not being served kosher meals as required by federal law. He also has asked to observe the Sabbath, meet monthly with a rabbi and celebrate the major Jewish holidays.

A federal law passed in 2000 calls on state prisons services to accommodate the religious practices of prisoners whenever possible.

Linares has been detained by the immigration agency since July 2010, when he was arrested for overstaying a 1995 tourist visa. He applied for asylum, saying that as a Jew in Venezuela his life is in danger.

A federal judge ordered that Linares be deported, but he has refused to board planes to return him to Venezuela four times. Linares has an arrest record that includes convictions for trespassing, driving with a suspended license and eluding law enforcement, according to the Huntsville Times.

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