Khalid Mehmood didn’t believe in paying $1 million tax – but the government didn’t have much sympathy and sent him to prison
Now, the restaurateur says jail itself is against his religion: he isn’t fed a Halal diet, he can’t pray because the other inmates are too noisy, and he doesn’t have access to an Imam.
Again, authorities are unsympathetic. This week, the Court of Appeal upheld his three-year sentence in Northland Region Corrections Facility.
Mehmood’s appeal failed after judges found no records of the prison receiving his complaints, and noted he had since moved to a newly-built prison in South Auckland where he was able to observe his duties.
So he was using his religion as an excuse to try and get a lighter sentence.
He appealed the sentence, claiming it was “disproportionately severe” because it prevented him from observing daily religious protocols. He argued it was a hardship not generally suffered by other prisoners.
By that argument, atheists should get longer prison sentences than people of faith.
The Court of Appeal noted Mehmood had since been moved to a new facility where he had his own cell, could shower four times a day, had access to an Imam, was provided a Halal or vegetarian diet, and was given his two meals at 5pm everyday so he could eat after sunset and before sunrise.