NASHVILLE, March 23 (UPI) -- Tennessee legislators are amending an anti-terrorism bill to remove constitutionally questionable language targeting Muslim Shariah law.
The sponsors, Sen. Bill Ketron and Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, told The (Nashville) Tennessean Tuesday they are rewriting it to delete all references to religion after its constitutionality was questioned.
The new text drops language that branded Shariah a "legal-political-military doctrinal system" that promotes "the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the United States and Tennessee constitutions ... through violence and criminal activity."
"It is about protecting our citizens from those who would use religious doctrine as a justification to commit criminal activities or terrorist acts," Matheny said.
The Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011 echoes a federal law that authorizes the U.S. Treasury freeze the assets of designated terrorist groups.
The Tennessee bill would authorize the governor and the state attorney general to identify terrorist organizations and make it a felony to support one, punishable by life in prison.
Mohamed Ahmed, imam of the Islamic Center of Nashville, welcomed the removal of language targeting Muslims but questioned the need for a state law when the federal government already has broad powers to fight terrorism.