Six prisoners recently released from Guantanamo Bay sought out kosher meat to accommodate their Islamic dietary restrictions as they began life anew as refugees in Uruguay, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Friday.
The men – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian – are staying at a home in a middle class neighborhood in Uruguay and are guests of a major labor union which President Jose Mujica asked to host them.
The union’s executive secretary, Gabriel Melgareo, said the hosts were trying to find meat that adheres to the men’s dietary needs.
“We found lamb meat they can eat at a butcher shop that sells kosher meat for the Jewish community,” he said.
The six men were detained in 2002 as suspected militants with ties to al-Qaeda. Though they were never charged they spent more than a dozen years as prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, the Daily Mail reported. They were cleared for release in 2009 but could not be sent home. The U.S. struggled to find countries willing to take them in until Uruguay agreed to accept them. The men arrived in the country on Monday.
Enjoying their freedom, four of the six former detainees successfully eluded journalists and went on a 6-mile walk along the banks of Uruguay’s Rio de la Plata on Thursday, Melgareo said.
“They were enchanted by the blue sky of Montevideo, the tranquility of the city, the ability to walk through the streets in absolute calm,” he added.
Bakery worker Laura Larrobla said two of the men stopped by to purchase cheese, yogurt and bread. She claimed they “looked good” and spoke only with an interpreter.
Melgarejo said the men are making plans to have their families come and live with them. They are also trying to learn Uruguay’s dialect.
“Today they began taking Spanish classes,” he explained. “A teacher came in the morning and we obtained several Arabic-Spanish dictionaries, which was not easy.”