DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A decision by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to allow Muslim inmates in the Dallas County Jail to receive special meals during Ramadan 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.

The Sheriff’s Department insists the meals weren’t served at any extra cost to taxpayers.

They department released the following statement:

“It is the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department mission to serve the county without any discrimination or prejudice. We offer services in English and Spanish and have offered them in Chinese and sign language as requested. Ramadan is a time for spiritual purification achieved through fasting, self sacrifice and prayers.

Local Muslim leaders applaud the Sheriff’s decision and say it’s no different than offering kosher meals, which are also available.

“It’s not special treatment. We’ve got kosher meals so the Muslims would like some accommodations so they are able to fast,” says Bilal Khaleeq, with Richardson’s Makkah Masjid Mosque.

Critics of the decision say they don’t believe the meals come without additional costs and don’t want any special accommodations for any inmates.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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