Judge extends order in Okla. Shariah case

Nov. 22, 2010 at 5:12 PM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge Monday extended an order blocking a state constitutional amendment that prohibits Oklahoma courts from using Islamic or international law.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City issued the order Nov. 8 in advance of Monday's hearing. She extended it to Nov. 29 to give her time to formulate a ruling, KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City, reported.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment Nov. 2 -- by 70 percent. It would bar state courts from using international law or Shariah -- Islamic law, comparable to Talmudic law -- in matters before the bench. Oklahoma courts don't use Shariah law now, but supporters of the ban say it was meant as a pre-emptive strike, the Tulsa World reported.

The judge issued her temporary restraining order preventing the ballot question from being implemented after Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Awad said the constitutional amendment brought his religion in disfavor while the state said Awad hasn't been harmed.

"Plaintiff is asking this court to completely veto the actions of 70 percent of the Oklahoma electorate without any proof of direct harm," state Assistant Attorneys General Scott Boughton and Janis W. Preslar said in a brief.

The ballot initiative does not favor or discriminate against any religion, the brief said.

"The reference to 'international law or Shariah law' is merely a subset of the references to 'precepts of other nations or cultures,'" the document said. "The measure bans, equally, all laws from other nations or cultures, including but not limited to international law and Shariah law."

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