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Sharia Hysteria Comes To Oklahoma: Voters Approve Sharia Law Ban

By Ben Armbruster on November 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm

"Sharia Hysteria Comes To Oklahoma: Voters Approve Sharia Law Ban"

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Oklahoma became the first U.S. state to ban the non-existent threat of Sharia law yesterday. Nearly 70 percent of voters there approved ballot initiative “Question 755″ — or the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment — which bans Sharia from being considered in Oklahoma courts. The ballot states that Oklahoma courts must “rely on federal and state law when deciding cases” and forbids them from “considering or using international law” and “from considering or using Sharia Law.”

The measure’s sponsor, Republican state senator Rex Duncan, called the result a “preemptive strike” against local judges whom he thinks might be “legislating from the bench or using international law or Sharia law.” “The fact that Sharia law was even considered anywhere in the United States is enough for me,” said GOP state senator Anthony Sykes. “It should scare anyone that any judge in America would consider using that as precedent.” Sykes is referring to a case in New Jersey in which a local judge ruled against a woman seeking a retraining order against her husband because he had repeatedly raped her. The judge said the husband was abiding by Muslim beliefs, but the decision was later overturned by an appellate court.

One local Muslim leader called the measure a “scare tactic” while another, Saleem Quraishi, called the measure “fear mongering“:

“It’s just fear mongering; it’s nothing,” Quraishi told CNN. “What’s Sharia law have to do with Oklahoma?” [...]

Quraishi insists that Islam does not allow for men to mistreat women, and that the New Jersey case involved a “crazy, loony man, unfortunately a Muslim.” “That is not Islam,” he said. “Oklahoma, you know, is a very Republican state,” Quraishi said. He accused some lawmakers with attempting to instill fear in the heads of constituents in order to drum up votes. “But Oklahomans are not like that. I know most of the Oklahomans. They’re very nice people.”

The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss notes that Sharia hysteria “has moved from the right-wing fringe into the mainstream conservative discourse, courtesy of people like Newt Gingrich” and was “kicked into high-gear” last month with the neocon Center for Security Policy’s release of a new “Team B II” report, “Sharia: The Threat To America.” Aside from the fact that the First Amendment protects against religious intrusion, Duss notes the obvious “nonsense” surrounding the right’s fear mongering:

Are there Muslim missionaries in the U.S. right now who want to get Americans to adopt Islam? Yes, just as there are Christian missionaries in Indonesia who want to get Indonesians to worship Jesus. Christianity and Islam are both evangelizing religions. Spreading the faith is part of the program.

Are there also radical Muslims in America right now trying to find ways to turn the U.S. into a religious state? Most likely, yes, and we should be on guard against it. It’s worth noting, however, that the Christian Right has failed at this for decades, in a country where over 75% of people identify as Christian. So good luck with that, radical Muslims.

In fact, Duncan and Sykes acknowledge that the Sharia issue is indeed a non-issue. “It’s not a problem and we want to keep it that way,” Sykes said. “It’s not an imminent threat in Oklahoma yet, but it’s a storm on the horizon in other states,” said Duncan. About 15,000 of Oklahoma’s 3.7 million residents are Muslim.

Update

CNN notes that Oklahoma “banned the use of international law in judicial decision-making,” which would presumably include Judeo-Christian precepts as well. “I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn’t that a precept of another culture and another nation?” a University of Oklahoma law professor said.

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