Memo From Middle America | Islamic Sharia Law In The Heartland?
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"It's based on fear, it's based on intolerance and it is not based on understanding of the Constitution.”

Thus fumed Kansas Republican State Senator Tim Owens, over a recently-passed law in his state.

The law’s purpose - to prevent the infiltration of Islamic Sharia Law.

Owens is embarrassed by the legislation. For one thing, he’s concerned that it will make Kansas look like a state of intolerant rednecks:

“People will ask, 'How narrow has that state [Kansas] become? How unwelcoming is this state?"

[Kansas Lawmakers Pass Effective Ban on Sharia Law, by Kevin Murphy, Reuters, May 12th, 2012]

What’s going on here? Why has Islamic Sharia Law become a controversial issue in heartland states such as Kansas and Oklahoma? Has the American Midwest become the Middle East?

It’s not just Kansas and Oklahoma. There have been attempts in several dozen states to prohibit the infiltration of Sharia law.

Is this just xenophobia perpetrated by ignorant rednecks?

Yes, says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for an organization called CAIR, which stands for Council on American-Islamic Relations:

"Really, the goal seems to be (to demonize) Islam and (to marginalize) American Muslims. Some (states) have passed these watered-down bills and declared a great victory. It's utter nonsense, but if your goal is to promote intolerance, I guess you won."[ note: Parentheses in original.]

(CAIR, by the way, is the group that got Juan Williams fired from NPR. So it’s got some clout.)

Promoting intolerance? That sounds BAD.

Critics of anti-Sharia legislation frame the issue as a matter of individual rights and freedom of religion. But it’s really a question of conflicting legal systems.

We inherited the English Common Law legal system from England. It’s the basic framework of our legal system and is an important part of our national identity.

We share this legal heritage with other English-speaking countries. In contrast, European and Latin American countries share a legal system called Civil Law, also known as Continental Law, Roman Law or Napoleonic Law.

Islamic Law, or Sharia, is very distinct from both Common Law and Civil Law. We’re dealing with a whole other world view here.

(A note about spelling: You may see the term spelled “Sharia” or “Shariah”, and you might see an apostrophe lodged in the middle. That’s because it’s really an Arabic word. There is no “right way” to spell Arabic words in our Latin alphabet. (See my discussion of the problem here).

Sharia Law is an all-encompassing legal system, designed by and for Islamic civilization. True, there are different schools of thought within Sharia law, and different Islamic countries follow it to different degrees. But the basic system is the same. Click here to see a map of countries that practice Sharia. You will notice that two of the most faithful practitioners are Saudi Arabia and Iran. A society controlled by Sharia law would be one that resembles those countries.

What does Sharia law cover? What does it not cover?

Sharia law covers Islamic doctrine, Islamic religious observances including worship, purification, fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, almsgiving and festivals. It governs morals and manners. (Sorry lefties, you’re supposed to use your right hand). It includes marriage laws (including polygamy), divorce, child custody and inheritance. It contains many dietary laws, including the prohibition of pork and alcohol. For the meats you can eat, it includes slaughter regulations which are not compatible with those used in our country today. Gambling is prohibited. It has a dress code. It prescribes funeral and burial rituals. It has rules about financial dealings, taxes, trade, banking and finance.

As for Muslims who freely decide to leave Islam, they are considered guilty of apostasy and may be executed.

In a Muslim-dominated society, there is a special status, dhimmitude, for those who aren’t Muslims. Certain rules are different for dhimmis, but there is no doubt that they are not favored citizens.

Criticism of Islam, even by a dhimmi, is considered blasphemy.

Furthermore, Jews and Christians are not allowed to bear arms under Sharia.

In Sharia criminal law, forensic evidence isn’t important, defendants represent themselves, there is no jury, no cross-examination of witnesses and no appeals. A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man and a non-Muslim’s testimony might be completely discarded.

Islamic Sharia law is totally incompatible with our Constitution and our English Common Law system. So how likely is it that Sharia could infiltrate our American law?

It’s relevant to point out that England and Canada, which share our basic legal system, have already allowed Sharia infiltration in the form of Sharia courts recognized by British and Canadian law.

Not to worry, some say, they could never do that here, with our First Amendment!

But according to the folks at the Center for Security Policy, the infiltration of Sharia law is already occurring in the US. The Center’s report, Shariah Law and American State Courts: an Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases, “evaluates 50 Appellate Court cases from 23 states that involve conflicts between Shariah (Islamic law) and American state law” which are believed to be only the tip of the iceberg. According to the report’s summary:

“These cases are the stories of Muslim American families, mostly Muslim women and children, who were asking American courts to preserve their rights to equal protection and due process…The study’s findings suggest that Shariah law has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy….we found 50 significant cases just from the small sample of appellate published cases….The facts are the facts: some judges are making decisions deferring to Shariah law even when those decisions conflict with Constitutional protections.”

You can read the summary document here, click here for a state by state summary, and the entire document is here.

So yes, Sharia is a problem. And state legislators and voters, even in redneck states, have a right to deal with it.

But we have to be careful though, how we go about it. In my home state of Oklahoma, a state referendum in 2010 tried to preemptively prohibit Sharia infiltration. State Question 755 passed by a whopping 70%. But it was immediately challenged by Muneer Awad, a Muslim residing in Oklahoma, who just happens to be the state leader of CAIR. A federal judge (black, Clinton-appointed) seized the opportunity to block the new law. Her decision was upheld by a federal appeals court. (Oklahoma Sharia law ban 'unconstitutional', court rules BBC January 10th, 2012)

But there’s another approach to the problem. In American Laws for American Courts (The American Thinker, Sept. 18th, 2011), Christopher Holton of the Center for Security Policy argues that Oklahoma’s SQ 755

“had the opposite of its intended effect. It has proven to be a boon to its opponents, and a distraction from the more carefully drafted bills designed to prevent both the entry of unconstitutional foreign laws such as shariah in American jurisprudence and the use of transnationalism by activist judges. SQ 755 contains several flaws, some legal and some practical...”

For one thing, the measure is too vague, which “could create loopholes for activist judges.”

Holton holds up ALAC (“American Laws for American Courts”), promoted by the American Public Policy Alliance, as a more carefully drafted alternative. ALAC has already become law in Tennessee, Louisiana and Arizona, and has not been legally challenged.

You can see model legislation here and here, you can read APPA’s answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

Now, what about that Kansas law? It was passed in the Kansas legislature (33-3 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House) and was signed into law by Governor Brownback in May. Although known as the “Sharia bill”, it did not actually mention Sharia, but forbade Kansas courts or agencies from basing rulings on foreign legal systems that don’t grant the same rights as the Kansas Constitution or U.S. Constitution.

But of course, CAIR is planning to fight it. In the Reuters article I previously quoted, spokesman Ibrahim Hooper fumed that

"It's unfortunate the governor chose to pander to the growing Islam-phobia in our society that has led to introduction of similar unconstitutional and un-American legislation in dozens of state legislatures"

Ibrahim Hooper is a white American convert to Islam, born in Minnesota and formerly known as Doug Hooper. Significantly, in a 1993 interview Hooper said:

“I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”

[Reader says use of ‘fundamentalist’ hurting Muslims, By Lou Gelfand, Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 4, 1993]

Well, isn’t Sharia’s creeping infiltration of our legal system an effective way to make the “government of the United States Islamic sometime in the future”?

Incredibly, since 9/11, the U.S. Muslim population has increased 67%. And our berserk immigration system continues to import 100,000 Muslims annually.

For the first time, there are more Muslims than Jews in the Midwest and parts of the South.

So, yes, creeping Sharia is becoming an issue in the heartland and throughout the U.S. And it’s just going to get worse.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A in 2008, after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.

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