The policy, the department said, “reduces the risk associated with visitors bringing in food that could compromise the safety, security and good order of immigration facilities.”
The new rules also limited the number of visitors permitted at each facility, which resulted in an annual evening service being canceled at Villawood.
Mr. Jaffarie, who arrived in Australia in 2013 and is the subject of an Australian Security Intelligence Organization investigation, said the new policy was devastating.
Many of the fasting asylum seekers, he said, now went without food or stashed away food for meals before sunrise and after sunset. Despite petitioning the facility’s officials, the meal service times, he said, had not been altered for Ramadan, and on occasion Muslims were even served pork.
Last year, the authorities provided meals of two boiled eggs, mandarins and dates, Mr. Jaffarie said. “This year, they have cut mandarins and boiled eggs.”
Muslim community leaders and human rights activists said the department’s rules were more about politics than security.
“Ultimately, this is about ensuring these people are not ‘out of sight, out of mind,’” said Khaled Alameddine, a spokesman for the Lebanese Muslim Association in Sydney, which has prepared meals for the detainees for three years. He added that community leaders and activists were also seeking to ensure that detainee policies did not inadvertently dehumanize them “by making processes more cumbersome and inaccessible.