NASHVILLE, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Some Tennessee legislators want to make it a felony, punishable by 15 years in prison, to follow Muslim religious law.
Republicans in both chambers introduced a bill last week that declares Shariah law a threat to the nation and authorizes the state attorney general to investigate complaints of people practicing it, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported.
The bill allows peaceful practice of Islam but brands any adherence to Shariah -- which includes religious practices like washing feet before prayers -- as treason. It asserts Muslims want to replace the Constitution with their religious law. A dozen other states are considering similar bills.
Imam Mohamed Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Nashville said Islam requires obeying the law of the land and Shariah promotes moral values.
"What do you mean, really, by saying I can't abide by Shariah law?" he said. "Shariah law is telling me don't steal. Do you want me to steal and rob a bank?"
Rep. Judd Matheny, the House sponsor and speaker pro tempore, said he fears Shariah may conflict with the Constitution, but he does not mean to criminalize practices like preparations for prayer or dietary rules and would consider amendments.