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States mull Shariah law bans

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in several U.S. states are mulling laws that would bar judges from considering Islamic or international law in rulings, a survey indicated.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says lawmakers in at least seven states -- Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah -- have such laws, USA Today reported Thursday. Tennessee and Louisiana enacted versions that ban use of foreign law under certain circumstances.

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Oklahomans overwhelmingly voted on Election Day to amend the state constitution to bar judges from considering Islamic or international law in Oklahoma state courts. Muneer Awad, director of Oklahoma's chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is challenging the law in court.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House and a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, is pushing for a federal law that he said "clearly and unequivocally states that we're not going to tolerate any imported law."

Shariah law, based on the Koran, is a code of conduct governing all aspects of Muslim life.

Supporters of bans on Shariah laws, including Center for Security Policy leader Frank Gaffney, say Islamic law is becoming more prevalent in U.S. courts, USA Today reported. His organization argues those who want worldwide Islamic rule try to establish Shariah courts to weaken democracies.

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Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman, told USA Today the laws are a sign of growing anti-Muslim sentiment, a view echoed by others who say the laws are fueled by fear as well.

"We have not found any conflict between what a Muslim needs to do to practice their faith and the Constitution or any other American laws," Hooper says. "We are, in fact, relying on the Constitution as our last line of defense."

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